Burton-Conner is one of the dorms here at MIT. You can check out our very outdated website here:
I get a lot of questions about how choosing dorms, floors, rooms, and roommates works. In some respects that’s tricky to answer, but I can give it a shot.
Although this has already been typed, explained, posted, published, and discussed over a dozen times by various bloggers, websites, and other people, I will again describe how housing works.
After being admitted and getting your big packet in March you come to CPW and get to explore all the different dorms. After visiting and getting a feel for the dorms you get to decided, officially, whether you want to attend MIT or not. If you choose to attend, your next mailing (“The Next Big Mailing”) has all of the awesome information you need to get you started, including instructions to set up your e-mail address, financial aid information, a DVD with videos made by each of the dorms, a book describing the dorms, and a list of dorms with a ranking system described. This is when you choose your initial dorms. That’s right, you get to choose your dorm. You rank all of the dorms in order that you would like to live in them (1 = I WANT TO LIVE THERE! 17 = I’m a guy, you can’t possibly expect me to live in McCormick!).
You submit all of your choices and then a month or two later, after a lot of magic happens, you are assigned a dorm, a room, and a roommate (they don’t tell you your roommate, you get to figure that out via Facebook), congratulations, but you’re not done yet! When you get to campus for orientation you’ll stay in your temporary room and continue to visit as many dorms as possible during Residence Exploration (REX). After that week of wandering is over you can choose to either stay in the dorm you are temped in or readjust to a new dorm. Readjusting doesn’t always mean you get what you want, but it’s a chance to try to switch dorms. It’s a rank/lottery system just like the initial dorm selection. After everybody is in their final dorms the next big event happens: Floor Rush.
This is when everything gets a little less standardized. All the dorms have different internal methods of rooming and flooring, so I’m going to have to just describe the Burton-Conner method. I’m sure other bloggers would be happy to describe other methods for other dorms if you shot them an e-mail.
Each has VERY different personalities, cultures, and types of people so it’s important to try and live somewhere you’ll feel the most comfortable. The way floor rush works is that all of the different floors host activities and employ different methods for both the freshmen to meet the upperclassmen and for the upperclassmen to meet the freshmen. Upperclassmen from one floor aren’t allowed onto the other floors, so again, I can’t speak for the other floors, but I can give you a sneak peak into what Conner 2 Floor Rush looked like.
Conner 2 is slightly obsessed with a song entitled “Shoot the Zombies.” Here’s our cover:
As such, we decided a floor rush activity involving shooting zombies in the head would be prudent. Hence, the sign you could find in the 23 Suite:
You see, a zombie recently moved into the 23 Suite and we needed a way to deal with him.
They only real good way to deal with a zombie on the loose is to shoot him. With Nerf guns.
Also in the 23 Suite were some room tours, giving everybody a glimpse into a standard double (my double) and some singles. It was kind of important for us to have a good rush for two big reasons.
1) We have no walls. They ripped all the wood paneling off our walls and are replacing them with drywall, spackle, and paint. At this point we only have drywall.
2) Our TV is broken. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the floors had a Wii on, we did not. Instead, we had smoothies , iced coffee, and crepes. The aftermath can be seen here:
We made sure that the entrance to Conner 2 was as nice as we could make it, so we dressed up the entry way to the floor.
Also, no, we’re not a cultural house, even though we have Union Jacks all over the floor. Here’s our story
Conner 2 is commonly known as “English House.” Hence the British flags painted on the walls and all. But why?
Back in the fall of ’74 (before there was a New House for all the cultural houses), the western half of the floor was separated by the eastern half by a locked door and was called “Russian House.” (Only the eastern half was officially considered “Conner 2.”) The floor tutor’s suite was part of Russian House and was occupied by the faculty director of Russian House. As is probably obvious, Russian House was established to give students an immersive environment in which to become fluent in Russian. The Russian House students placed Russian labels on many common objects on the floor to assist them in learning conversational Russian quickly.
Russian House moved out of Burton-Conner after the Spring 1975 semester, but left their Russian labels all over the place. The residents of Conner 2, in turn, began calling the floor English House. Inspired one night, they placed English labels on the common objects around the floor. Rather than removing the Russian labels (which didn’t really work well since they were quite attached to the walls), they just labeled over them in English. Some people got so into the spirit that British flags began to appear decorating the walls.
In order that the descendants of those first “Founders” might never forget their history, Conner 2 became commonly known as English House. To this day, the fire extinguisher between the 23 and 24 suites still bears an original Russian label.
One the wall right outside our elevator are pictures of all the residents and the story that I just posted. When the elevator door opens and you step out you are greeted with a whiteboard bearing the following:
Unfortunately, all of our elevator area niceties were stymied by Conner 3. Conner 3 had cracked open the elevator panel, rewired it, and then closed it back up again, making it only open on Conner 3 and the lobby.
Ordinarily, this would be hilarious. Honestly, kudos to Conner 3, but there are some serious issues with doing this during floor rush. First off, floor rush isn’t a competition between floors, it’s a chance for freshmen to visit all the floors and find the one they’d fit in to. Floors actually force freshmen to leave and go visit other floors if they hang around too long. It’s not a competition to get as many frosh as possible, so Conner 2 got a bit miffed over Conner 3 screwing with dorm property and floor rush in one fell swoop. Floor competitions or snowball fights, re-wire your hearts out, but don’t prevent freshmen from visiting Conner 5 because they can’t take the elevator and don’t want to take the stairs. Not cool.
We decided to fix the elevator so we grabbed toolboxes and went to work. To get the panel off
we removed all the hex bolts
but the very last bolt was some weird double pinned security bolt, the tool for which we didn’t own.
Laura messed with it for a while and then I messed with it, eventually constructing a homemade tool from some paperclips and electrical tape that finally opened the panel. It was pretty apparent what had been tampered with, all of the wires from buttons, labeled 1-5, had been spliced into one black wire and that was connected to the “3” slot. We unspliced the wires, separated them out, and then put them back where they belonged. Except for Conner 3. We wired them to go to Conner 1, just because. They walked into the elevator as we were doing this however, and the wires were switched back such that the elevator was completely returned to its normal state. The panel was screwed back down, and freshmen began using the elevator to visit ALL the floors, not just Conner 3.
At the end of the evening, freshmen ranked the floors. They submitted their rankings and then overnight more magic happened. Unfortunately, the flooring magic isn’t as efficient as the housing magic, so while many people got their first choice, several people got their 6th, 7th, 8th, and even 9th picks. It really is unfortunate and since I’m not on the flooring committee I don’t understand how it all works. Know that it’s not impossible to move to a different floor, so if you truly are unhappy with where you live after a year there, talk to a different floor and see if they’ll accept you during the next flooring cycle (generally at the end of the year).
So that’s Burton-Conner/Conner 2 floor rush. Once the freshmen are on a floor they are slotted into rooms (again, different methods for different floors) and then life at MIT begins.