My little sister just left for college last month. While I don’t think her dormitory gives her the same kind of self-governance that East Campus does, she has recently told me that she wants to take back some of the criticism she had for me when I first arrived at MIT. She used to berate me for “not doing things”. When I got here I didn’t join any sports. I tried some clubs and none of them stuck. I spent most of my free time sitting around in my lounge and by winter there were often weekends were I wouldn’t leave the dorm. She has told me now that she gets it; this is my home and I live with my friends.
The values of MIT’s living group based communities are innumerable and so I will highlight just one. Not only are these people my friends but they are also my family. We are not just people that work together, live together or hang out in our free time. We are a group of people who support each other and help each other grow and reach our fullest potential. Some of us paint our hallways black, scream collectively in the hallways or proclaim the moto “smoke crack, worship Satan”. There is no elevator or single gendered bathrooms. There are cockroaches and rats, broken sinks, and holes in the wall. Even with all of this, we are a community that can convince a parent that their child is looked after here. We are a place where even new residents will have a shoulder to cry if they need one. We are people who will stay up all night even though we have a test tomorrow just because someone doesn’t want to be alone. These communities are amazing not because of the cultures that have already developed but because they continue to develop. As our residents learn, grow, fail and succeed in all aspects of their life including dining, studies, and relationships we are there.