I recently had a reunion with several alum pizens (EC third west residents). I left EC in 2010.
Sitting there on the grass, laughing at old times, talking about our current lives, what played in my mind was one simple thought: “This would never have happened if not for East Campus”
East Campus forced me to grow up. It set me on the path to becoming a more confident person. It set me on the path to being able to set my own path, breaking away from other people’s expectations — and breaking away from my own. It didn’t give me permission to try out new things. It asked me why the #$%^ was I asking for permission.
Which sounds so frighteningly anarchist. I dyed my hair wacky colors and did things that could cause some MIT admins to cringe. We get it, we can make people uncomfortable — if those people aren’t judging us by our character.
By all accounts, I look like what an administrator might want of an MIT grad. I’m a software engineer and project manager who loves my work. I have a great relationship with my parents. I have good friends. I have pursuits I’m passionate about. I’m continuing onwards to get a master’s. I think that qualifies as “well adjusted”.
None of that would’ve happened had I lived on the west side. I would’ve been in a career I didn’t enjoy because it was the only thing I ever imagined for myself. I wouldn’t have walked out of MIT capable of forming deep friendships – I was always holding people at arm’s length. I used to shy from uncomfortable situations. Now I ask myself if it’s possible I’ll grow, and I chase uncomfortable situations head-on. That habit has served me so well in recent years, in every aspect of my life.
The east side isn’t something everyone wants or needs. But it’s a reminder to keep asking the most important question in the universe: Why not?
There’s something special here. Don’t let it go away.