Tech Twinkles, a celebration of holiday lights on MIT’s campus, drew hundreds of students and community members to the Stratton Student Center on December 6. In its fourth year, the event featured hot apple cider, cupcakes, and performances by the Logarhythms, the Chorallaries, and comedy improv troupe Roadkill Buffet.
Tech Twinkles was started in 2014 by Veronika Jedryka ‘17, Teresa de Figueiredo ‘17, and Jane He ’15. The idea came about when they realized how early it gets dark outside during the winter. “We thought it would be great to add some kind of brightness to MIT’s campus and lift people’s spirits,” Jedryka explains, “especially during a tough time with finals and final projects.”
In its first three years, the event was a partnership between the founders and the Division of Student Life. After Jedryka and Figueiredo graduated, the Undergraduate Association’s (UA) Events Committee volunteered to continue the tradition. This year, the UA added some furry fun to the proceedings with therapy dogs from MIT’s Puppy Lab, sponsored in part by the MindHandHeart Initiative.
Christine You ‘20, UA Events Committee co-chair, explains, “For me, it’s a little sad when I’m done with my classes around 4 pm but the sun has already set and it’s very dark.”
This also marks the first year that Facilities and Grounds took on the challenge of stringing thousands of lights on trees across campus. Sogna Scott, administrative assistant in Grounds Services, explains that it was a positive experience for the team “because it takes us out of the realm of doing our everyday work and it kind of gives us something to be a little more proud of.”
Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ‘88, who has attended the event each year, was pleased with this year’s outcome. “What is truly amazing to me—and I get to witness it every day, it seems—is the students here at MIT and how much energy they have,” she says. “The organization is phenomenal and the commitment and excitement that students bring to it is just amazing.”
Tech Twinkles has become a welcome addition to December, encouraging students to take a break from preparing for finals and enjoy a few stress-free hours together. “It’s beginning to feel like winter and that means, for many of us, darkness,” Barnhart explains. “When you walk by those lights, […] they just make you happy.”
Written by Nicole Cooper, Video by Stephanie Tran
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Recent survey data show that 2-8 percent of MIT graduate students and as many as 13 percent of MIT undergraduates do not have enough to eat. And the problem is not unique to MIT: other similar schools report that about 20 percent of their students struggle with food insecurity.
Wellness and Support, Undergraduate, Dean for Student Life, Dining, Graduate