Why Get Around MIT when you can just MIT?
Many of you will probably play Fallout 4 soon. You better get to know the Institvte. Yes, with a V.
Know Your Communities
You better know the people.
Know Your Undergrad Dorms
Contrary to unpopular belief, Senior House does not actually house only seniors. Rather, it is the most senior of MIT’s dormitories, having existed a decade or so longer than Fred. Any cursory tour of Senior House will reveal distinctive features of buildings built in days long past, like elevators and air conditioning. Senior House’s fifth and sixth floors are very small and constitute an entity called the “Tower”. A few people live in this high place.
Senior House’s bent-piece-of-brickstrap-shaped figure embraces Gray House, the residence of the MIT president, symbolically depicting the perennial cordial synergy between Senior House and the MIT administration.
Some residents of Fred refer to their dorm as EAsT camPUS, but as the lowercase letters there tell you, that name is a scam. The actual name of the dorm is the East Campus Alumni Memorial Houses, abbreviated “Fred”.
Fred is the only MIT dorm to actually comprise of two separate buildings, although they are connected by an underground tunnel. The West parallel is home to Fred Desk (specifically, in the third of the parallel called “Munroe”, spelled like the xkcd author, not like the dickish president), home of angrily thrown packages, and adjacent Talbot Lounge, location of a mysterious diner featuring periodic harrowing and unexplained screams. These screams are known to the State of California to cause oatmeal.
To meet standards for architectural questionability that Fred otherwise fails to reach, a maimed, singed, and petrified whale carcass named Transparent Horizon (singular) is transplanted at an end of the courtyard between Fred’s two buildings. Rumors are that there are actually many Transparent Horizons.
You can live in Random Hall to be able to say that you lived in a dorm that was falling down, while other dorms actually succumb to structural disintegrity. You see, they say Random Hall is falling down, but ever since the 1890s, it has been an experiment in life extension, making everything live longer than it should, from buildings, to traditions, to milk.
Visit there before its toilet population shrinks below the minimum level allowed by building code. At that point, Random Hall may finally need to be closed, because heaven forbid Random ever fails to meet building codes.
Bexley Hall is the best undergraduate dorm on campus. It sports a 2.361-caliber basement laboratory, the finest artwork in all the Institvte, and doors between rooms (as well as other doors). Bexley’s cats pamper you and Bexley’s Dear Leader (or lack thereof) loves you. Basically, Bexley is the bextest and there’s no reason you wouldn’t want to live there. The only caveat is that it doesn’t exist.
Four score and -76 years ago, the MIT administration, impressed by Bexley’s success, cloned it and inflated it into a castle. Throughout its life, Maseeh followed Bexley’s footsteps in its evolution as a dorm: it grew a sketchy dining area, it seceded from DormCom, and -39 years ago, was closed by the MIT administration after it found traces of culture.
McCormick Hall, known for its otherworldly penthouse and color-named rooms, is MIT’s all-female dormitory. It’s also a dormitory with actually decent pianos. If you bring your cello to McCormick Hall, however, expect to get your cello case searched for bombs. Possibly twice in the future when McCormick becomes a gated community.
Baker House, MIT’s dormitory of normal college students, is MIT’s best source of very loud music and rooms shaped like pies. Each room, whether it’s shaped like a pie or not, is home to numerous pets, like armadillos and giraffes. These pets are only condoned in Baker House; other dorms only allow fish and occasionally cats.
Once a semester, Baker House drops a piano from its roof, in celebration of Dropbox, the most successful project funded by Y combinator and brainchild of Drew Houston, Bexley Hall alum and namesake of Baker House. (The ‘Baker’ part of the name comes from the fact that the dorm has a dining hall, where things are sometimes baked.) The average amount of sound emitted by the piano upon impact to the ground is the definition of the Bruno, an MIT-invented unit of aural intensity.
Some people have trouble finding their way to Baker House. If you find yourself among these people, remember to look for the building that looks like an art project by an artist not on crack.
Formed from the fusion of Conner Hall and Burton House, Burton-Conner House has five floors despite having six floors (it actually has seven). Each of the ten floors vary refreshingly in culture, having representation from all two of the British Isles.
Numerous fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups have attached themselves to Burton-Conner House in an attempt to make it appear more Greek. Don’t let the appearance fool you.
Contrary to popular belief, MacGregor residents do not spend all day inside their single dorm rooms masturbating. They’re MIT students, too: they need time to PSet. When not PSetting, they can often be seen congregating at their lounges, of which there are several per entry, the unit of social organization in MacGregor. Entries vary significantly in culture.
MacGregor also only slightly has elevators. There are no elevators in the low rise (entries F, G, H, and J), and elevators only open to one floor of each of the high rise entries (A, B, C, D, and E). In addition to the lack of elevator service, MacGregor features the MacGregor wind tunnel, bane of all undergrads unfortunate enough to live west of it (as well as grads living in Tang, if they walk) that must weather it every time they travel to campus in the winter.
MacGregor is also home to MacGregor Convenience, often dubbed “MacCon”, and is a source of food for people this far west in campus that don’t want to walk a mile east to get food. Surprisingly, it often has nicer prices than La Verde’s.
New West Campus Houses, or “West Campus” for short (and possibly even “New House”) is the next dorm west of MacGregor, and is connected to MacGregor by a
sketchy underground tunnel.
Here, social groups organize by house rather than by floor, except for everywhere where it doesn’t. Some social entities in West Campus are called “cultural houses”, because culture happens there, and some are called “numbered houses”, because their days are numbered before they’re engulfed by water. Be sure to check out the arcade, where you can play any of numerous games involving bricks.
500 Memorial Drive
Being the furthest undergraduate dorm from campus, 500 Memorial Drive attracts students with its vibrant culture and delicious dining hall food. Be sure to check out the tastefully furnished lounge (TFL).
Floors in 500 Memorial Drive are distinguished from floors in Fred in that Fred uses ordinals (“fifth west”) whereas 500 Memorial Drive uses cardinals (“five west”).
500 Memorial Drive is definitely not known by any other names.
Though often rumored to be called The Sponge for its outside appearance, Simmons Hall is actually named so because its inside resembles a sea sponge.
Simmons features a singing elevator, wide-eyed tourists and architects, beautiful terraces, above-ground laundry machines, and enough windows to sell them and buy a thousand macs, more than two per resident. Of course, they never bothered to make that upgrade. Typical Simmons Tech.
Know Your Graduate Dorms
They’re Edgerton House, The Warehouse, Ashdown House, Sidney-Pacific, and Tang Hall.
Q: And what about them?
A: Sadly, graduate students mostly associate much more with their labs than their dorms, and there are substantially fewer distinguishing features of grad dorms than of undergrad dorms.
Q: What about Eastgate and Westgate?
A: Those are apartments, not dormitories.
Q: What about Watergate?
A: That’s a scandal, not a dormitory or an apartment.
Q: I thought it was Edgerton Hall.
A: No, Edgerton Hall is 34-101. No grad students, at least that I know of, live there.
Know Your FSILGs
Actually, nah. There’s too many of them. Just know that here at MIT, we decide to group fraternities (F), sororities (S), and independent living groups (ILG) as one category, even though we still have some fratty frats, sorory sororities, and ILGs that are really nothing like them.
Buildings of Note
Call them by their numbers. The people at MIT usually don’t bother to call them by their names (aside from Stata, and in that case, even still).
10 (MacLaurin Building)
The centerpiece of the original MIT campus (and arguably still the centerpiece of MIT’s campus), Building 10 sports the well-recognizable dome (although Building 7 also has a smaller dome) and a grand central lobby. The lobby has a wall dedicated to Richard MacLaurin, a wall dedicated as a memorial for World War I, a wall dedicated as a memorial for World War II, and a wall that is blank. You know, in case.
32 (Ray and Maria Stata Center)
Once upon a time, Frank Gehry saw a piece of crumbled newspaper and decided it was a good idea to model an MIT building after it. The finished building acquired properties of crumbled newspaper, for instance water permeability. If you’re looking for this building, really, just look for the weirdest building. If you’re on main campus, you’d have to be quite high to get this wrong.
The Stata Center has two towers, the Dreyfoos (D) and the Gates (G) towers. Rooms in the fourth floor and higher have ‘D’ or ‘G’ in their room number to designate which tower they’re in. If you go to the wrong tower, you may have to teleport, fly, or take the elevator back down and then another elevator up on the other tower to arrive at your correct destination.
Rooms of note include 32-G449 (“The Patil Room”/”Kiva”/”The Pineapple”), which was the location of some classes until too many students got dizzy from the room’s non-Euclidean geometry, 32-G601, which is on the D side, and 32-381, which happily has no windows (or macs (or parrots)).
If every piece of asbestos on campus turned into a zombie, you should hide here, because there won’t be any inside here, and zombies won’t be able to find their way through here. But then again, neither might you.
46 (Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex)
The Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex (BCSC) is a very complex building, built as an arching building over a railroad track, thus having several split floors. The southern side of the building, the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, is named after the largest beneficiary of the Madoff Ponzi Scheme.
76 (Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research)
This building has scary signs everywhere telling you about how private things are, so there’s not really many places you can go. A walk around its basement reveals security cameras everywhere, including pointing at several bathrooms. Heed the building’s warnings; cancer is serious business.
On the first floor of the building is a café for people with too much money. Really, just take the short walk over to the café on the first floor of 32. You even get exercise doing so!
E15 (Wiesner Building)
E15 is a medium for I. M. Pei’s inside jokes. It has many squares.
E62 (Sloan School of Management)
Not to be confused with the Sloan Building (E52), “Fake Sloan” (the Tang Center, E51), the Sloan Laboratory (35), or the Sloan Laboratories (31), “Sloan” (E62) is a building built out of solid gold.
Be sure to check out the promenade to nowhere, the three grand staircases, and the exquisite elevators. Also, the ridiculously large parking garage.
W64 (David Koch Childcare Center)
With the Heinz Building numbered W59, Simmons Hall numbered W79, and the MIT Police Building numbered W89, the clear number for the childcare center was W64, because MIT didn’t want to put 69 in the building number of a childcare center. Here, children learn how to deny climate change and make threats to their future employees if Democratic candidates win elections for president.
NW14 (Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory)
There’s nothing funny about the Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory. (Don’t actually try eating the magnets. Your credit cards will fry. And the magnets aren’t even bitter.) Check out the art gallery on the second floor, and find out who Bob Griffin is.
Pick a Major, Any Major
So you’ve come to the Institute. What are you here to study? Choose your hell.
Whatever you’re here to study, once again, call the majors (“courses”) by their number, not their name. When in the Institute, do as the Institutans do. Or something.
Course 1 (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Build bridges. You do a lot more than just build bridges, but everyone from other majors will think of you as people who build bridges.
Course 2 (Mechanical Engineering)
A course that offers so many classes, it once asked the registrar to allow a fourth digit after the decimal point. The registrar said no, only to later say yes when Course 6 asked to as well. A source of bitterness in the 2-6 rivalry.
Course 3 (Materials Science and Engineering)
Find out what cool and strange things you could use to make cool and strange things that do cool and strange things. Course 3 also offers 3.091: Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry, a choice for fulfilling the Institute’s chemistry requirement for people who don’t want to chemistry. Also check out 3C: Archaeology and Materials. Possibly even check out 3I: Immaterial Science.
Course 4 (Architecture)
Be the hero MIT’s campus needs. Nonononono…that’s not what MIT’s campus needs…sigh.
Course 5 (Chemistry)
A department in constant civil war. A major in which you have to take two semesters of organic chemistry.
Course 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
“Is anyone here Course 6?”
Course 7 (Biology)
A major to declare if you want to be able to brag about having taken a 30-unit class.
Course 8 (Physics)
People in love with 6-120. Home to 8.13, the dreaded and revered “J-lab”.
Course 9 (Brain and Cognitive Sciences)
Lots of monkeys. Lots of brains. Some of the brains are inside the monkeys. You can make a living off of participating in this department’s studies.
Course 10 (Chemical Engineering)
“If you double a major’s course number, you add ‘engineering’ on the end!”
Course 11 (Urban Studies and Planning)
The North Dakota to Course 4’s South Dakota. Interpret that however you will.
Course 12 (Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences)
If you like thinking large, well, here you go: get to work on the largest-scale subject in the tallest building in Cambridge.
Course 13 (Ocean Engineering)
Engineer oceans. Or maybe engineer the ability to declare this major; that might be easier.
Course 14 (Economics)
The study of eating environmentally-friendly…oh, apparently it’s actually the study of choices people make given scarce resources.
Course 15 (Management)
Declare this major if you want to be on the other side of the Calculus/Real People sign while still doing calculus. Er, doing calculus for graduate students that came from outside The Institvte.
Course 16 (Aeronautics and Astronautics)
Course 17 (Political Science)
Actually a really good department at MIT. Too bad too few people are interested because, well, this is MIT.
Course 18 (Mathematics)
People who want to be able to take whatever classes they want. Almost. You just can’t get away from 18.03: Differential Equations, can you?
Course 19 (Being Invisible)
Course 20 (Biological Engineering)
Home to the longest introductory class name in MIT courses, 20.020: Introduction to Biological Engineering Design Using Synthetic Biology. Also home to class numbers that confuse others into thinking they’re in other majors (“Twenty-three ten? But twenty-three isn’t a course!”).
Actually many departments together, many of which are too small to be one course number. Try 21E, literally called “Humanities and Engineering”.
Course 22 (Nuclear Engineering)
A close contender for longest introductory class name, with 22.01: Introduction to Nuclear Engineering and Ionizing Radiation. A major you declare if you want to need to get a security clearance everywhere you work.
Course 24 (Linguistics and Philosophy)
What do linguistics and philosophy have to do with each other? Ask Noam Chomsky.
Course 27 (Scott Robinson)
A truly singular course.
CMS, WGS, HST, ESD, and so on. Why aren’t they numbered? Why would I know? Try them out; you might end up getting credit for being on Reddit.
A sampling of the various student organizations at MIT.
MIT’s student newspaper. Occasionally challenges rival publication Voodoo at making inaccurate statements. Usually loses.
MIT’s student unnewspaper. Occasionally challenges rival publication The Tech at making inaccurate statements. Usually loses.
ASA (Association of Student Activities)
The ASA’s members yell at each other.
UA (Undergraduate Association)
The UA does the yelling the ASA is too tired to do.
GSC (Graduate Student Council)
The GSC maintains a beautiful home page.
MIT’s yearbook. Surprisingly competent for a yearbook organization. Has a name containing “tech” because it’s at MIT, of course.
LSC (Lecture Series Committee)
The LSC regularly hosts lectures in 26-100 covering a variety of topics. The lectures happen to actually be movies.
SIPB (Stratton Institute of Pedantry and Bikeshedding)
The SIPB provides staplers for students to use, as well as answer questions from students asking if they could use the staplers. (The answer is ‘Yes.’) As a side service, they also run scripts, a volunteer-run hosting service for MIT.
ESP (Educational Studies Program)
Once every semester, they summon a frightening swarm of middle or high school students to participate in a ritual of enjoyable learning. They also summon free food along with the young’uns, which is the only reason the rest of campus is okay with the ensuing stampedes.
They plan the assassinations of those who dare to spell it the other way(s), for those propagations of heresy must be purged.
MTG (Musical Theatre Guild)
Productions involving much music and much theatre.
MITSFS (MIT Science Fiction Society)
Another organization that fails to have a misleading name. Be sure to evaluate whether you would like to upgrade a Life Membership to a Permanent Membership, which pays for itself after only nine resurrections.
WMBR (Walker Memorial Basement Radio)
Backronymed. Radio casts so cool it’s literally underground.
A Capella Groups
There’s nearly a dozen of them. They’re very punny.
What do you do when a joke falls flat on the road and dies?
Vegetarian and Vegan Society
At the risk of bringing up more self-explanatory items, I think I’ll stop here. Got everything? Good. You’re ready to hate this fvcking place.