Seth Bisen-Hersh, MIT

Seth Bisen-Hersh, MIT

A weeklong electronic journal.
Oct. 9 1997 3:30 AM

Seth Bisen-Hersh, MIT

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       I started today with my music class, Harmony and Counterpoint 1. The first common misconception about MIT, which I will dispel today, is that it has no humanities. I assure you, we have great humanities majors here--many people, including me, decide to double-major. Furthermore, we have huge humanities libraries. I love the music library. It has the score to almost every musical ever written. I'm a big Broadway fan. I never have to tell people where my room is: I can just send them up the correct stairs--my door is conspicuously covered with Broadway fliers. I have my own room. I am in one of the only dorms with freshman singles. I got one because I wrote a poem in rhyming couplets on why I wanted one.
       I should probably explain the housing situation here at MIT. When we arrived Aug. 21, we were given temporary housing. We then had four days to tour various dorms and fraternities and decide where we wanted to live. Almost 50 percent of the guys are in fraternities, I think, but don't quote me on that. This is because the dorm-to-people ratio here isn't that good. But I hear MIT plans to rectify this situation in a few years. The first week is a fun, exciting time in an MIT freshman's life because there is free food everywhere. The key to getting to a college student is free food. That's also how many events get people to show up. But anyway, we were treated like gods for the first week as we picked a place to call home. After a lottery (again by computer, like everything else here), we received our housing. It seems like ages ago, but it was really only a few months ago that I started living here.
       Back to today. My H&C professor, Dr. Ruehr, is very energetic and always digresses into great stories (some of which actually have to do with the lesson). I also get a required piano lab and sight-singing lab through the course, and those are always the highlights of my week. Today we discussed cadences and analyzed a Mozart piece. Our project for the semester is to write a Mozart piece.
       After H&C, I have a free half-hour. Today I went to my calculus lecture early and found my friend there in need of help. I tried my best to help, and I hope I at least made her smile. Anyway, calculus wasn't totally awful--we discussed max/min points in 3-D space. After calculus I scurried off to Archery. We are required to take four quarters of gym--MIT wants us to be well-rounded. That's also the reason they require at least one humanities course per semester. But we really are a bunch of well-rounded people here. I can actually string a bow fairly well now. I could lie and say I got all bull's eyes today, but I doubt you'd believe me.
       After Archery I had a nice free hour when I ate lunch (pizza) and picked up a copy of the Tech, the student newspaper. I am almost a member of the opinion staff. To be one I just have to write three columns and then keep writing three each semester. I've written two so far, one to go! (If you want to read them, they are on the Web here and here.) Anyway, I perused the Tech and then spent time catching up on the mountains of e-mail that accumulate. I also sent my friend Kim, at Mount Holyoke, an e-mail birthday card, because she turned 18 today.
       After break, I have one more class. It's a chemistry recitation. My TA is really nice. She's a graduate student here. We discussed something or the other--it slips my memory now. Then afterward, my friend Jen and I went to Tosci's (Toscanini's has the best ice cream in Boston) like we do every Tuesday and Thursday after recitation. I had orange chocolate. Anyway, then my friend Sara met me there, and we set out to do the calculus problem-set for the week. I met both Jen and Sara at the Freshman Leadership Program.
       Sara and I did calculus for awhile. Then we went to the tutoring session on it for help on a few problems. One of the problems is so impossible that not even the math-major tutors could figure out how to do it.
       I spent a few hours on my computer with e-mail, zephyring, IMing, and surfing the Web. (Hi to all my friends who are checking this out after I wrote them about it!) I actually send out the "Seth Ledger"--an update of my life--semifrequently to all my friends. People joke about the length of my list. At last count it was up to 90 people, not including my new friends at MIT, who number about 200. So that's pretty much it for tonight. Perhaps I'll watch StarTrek. It's on all the time here.

Seth Bisen-Hersh is a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

(Note: Earlier this semester, the "Yale Five" announced that, in defiance of school policy, they were refusing to live in the campus dormitories because living in co-ed quarters violated their Orthodox Jewish beliefs. Last week, an MIT freshman died of alcohol poisoning at a fraternity party after having consumed about 16 drinks. Have our nation's elite colleges become hotbeds of binge drinking and sexual abandon? SLATE's diarists this week tell us what life at these top schools is really like.)