I spent my time at MIT living at East Campus, although I spent Rush at Random Hall. Knowing that I was surrounded by a group of people who had actively chosen to live together was a huge support for me. I grew up poor in a rural area on the West Coast, and I had a very rough first year at MIT. My hall mates supported me in many ways — cooking together, offering hugs, dragging me off to a party, and offering immediate on-the-spot tutoring.
I also appreciate the “intergenerational” aspect of self-defined living groups. Because people continue to identify with their living group even after they finish at MIT there is a nice pool of people of all different ages and experiences who will randomly drop by to chat, cook, or offer assistance.