The MIT HungerGrad Games: Orientation 2014

by Meghan Kenney and Meghan Campbell, UAAP

2014 orientationNavigating MIT for the first time can feel like stepping into a new arena – you don’t know what challenges will present themselves. This year’s Orientation program used a “Hunger Games” theme to welcome 1,040 first-year students to MIT and show them that by working together, they can truly succeed here.

Leading up to Orientation, 524 eager first-year students arrived early on campus to participate in one of the 23 Freshman Pre-Orientation Programs (FPOPS). Students were able to explore programs in 19 academic disciplines as well as leadership, the arts, service initiatives, and the outdoors. This year, UAAP launched a new UROP FPOP, led by Melissa Martin-Greene and Sara Nelson. During the program, 20 first-year students were able to tour many of the Institute’s research labs, engage with faculty in panels and roundtable discussions, and learn strategies for finding and carrying out successful research collaborations.      

2014 Orientation LeadersWith 86 enthusiastic Orientation Leaders guiding the way, Orientation 2014 started on Sunday, August 24, with some fun and games. Produced by Orientation Coordinator Natzem Lima ’16, the kick-off event featured video clips of MIT students facing and overcoming typical first-year challenges, including psets, getting involved on campus, and relationship woes. The event also pitted first-year students against Orientation Leaders in a number of games on stage. Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill even made a hilarious cameo as the “Hunger Games” TV personality Caeser Flickerman – complete with blue wig!

Throughout the week, the class of 2018 attended a number of Orientation events designed to address many important first-year issues, including President Reif’s Convocation, Tech Theatre, Diversity and Inclusion, and the annual By Students, For Students: Conquering MIT program, which highlights stories of student challenges and successes. This year, Orientation introduced a new program to address sexual misconduct called Speak About It. The program, created by a group of students from Bowdoin College, features actors sharing stories collected from real college students about their experiences around relationships, sexuality, sexual assault, and being an effective bystander. The program received positive feedback from both students and MIT staff.

In the academic arena, first-year students learned about the GIR’s from faculty at the annual Core Blitz program, and were able to interact with departments at the Academic Expo. They all had a chance to meet with their academic advisor and associate advisor before registering for their first semester of MIT classes. To celebrate the end of a successful week, the class traveled to the New England Aquarium for a night of entertainment, food, and fun!

Overall, this year’s Orientation program was a success, thanks to the dedication and hard work of many faculty, staff, student leaders, and members of the MIT community!