The return to campus and student life at MIT
Since mid-March 2020, MIT students have looked forward to a time when campus would reopen fully. About 18 months later, MIT welcomed all students back to its residence halls, classrooms, and labs for the resumption of full academic and research activities. For now, Covid protocols -- masking, Covid testing, and daily attestations -- remain in place to keep the MIT community healthy in spite of Covid’s Delta variant. The familiar buzz of students bustling with activity fills MIT’s once-silent facilities.
Undergraduates started arriving on campus in mid-August, many stepping foot on campus for the first time and finally meeting virtual friends in-person. MIT’s newest students, the Class of 2025, eagerly jumped into Residence Exploration (REX), a four-day experience for all first-year students, sophomores, any students looking to learn more about MIT's residential communities and meet potential neighbors.
Each residence hall and living community plans and hosts their own signature events. Stroll down Vassar Street during REX and you might see Simmons Hall residents building their iconic Trojan Duck for the infamous Water War on Killian Court. At East Campus, there is plenty of grilling, chilling, and fort-building. From Amherst Alley and Vassar Street up to Random Hall near Central Square, residences are buzzing with game and movie nights, carnival-themed activities, residence hall tours, wellbeing activities, and lots and lots of snacks. Despite Burton Conner being offline for renovations until Fall 2022, BC residents joined the fun and excitement by hosting REX events in Saxon Court and the Stata Amphitheater, where they shared BC’s history, culture, and traditions with the curious and inquisitive.
This fall, following MIT’s updated events policy, REX events were officially held from Sunday, August 29 to Wednesday, September 1 -- coinciding with Orientation sessions and events -- and were hosted by MIT’s Dormitory Council (DormCon), 10 undergraduate residential halls, and living communities. Contending with the sheer number of house events students could choose from was like “drinking from a fire hose,” a phrase attributed to President Jerome Wiesner that describes MIT’s educational experience. The many options also encouraged newly arrived students to deeply explore campus and start to shape their MIT experience.
After many months of Zoom classes and virtual events, REX 2021 was even more than a drink from the firehose--it was like jumping into a pool of MIT fun and tradition. And it better resembled the return to campus that many students hoped for.
Written and video by Stephanie Tran.