Greetings, freshman, and welcome to MIT. I see you’re looking at Random Hall as a possible place to live. While Random is not for everyone, it’s certainly a place that I enjoy very much. If you have the time, I’d like to take you on a visual tour of Random Hall during the summer nighttime hours.
This is in no way a substitute for taking a tour with a real tour guide during Rush. It’s merely intended to serve to whet your appetites for the real thing. I can’t possibly convey how awesome Random is by simply showing you pictures – you have to see for yourself :) In particular, the dorm was unusually empty when I was walking around taking these pictures. There’s really nothing better for getting the feel of a dorm than walking around with a resident.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions and explanations expressed here are my own and are not intended to represent the dorm in any official capacity whatsoever. Again, this is not a substitute for a real tour.
Follow me through the front door, and we’ll begin…
Warning: The following page contains a great deal of images and may take a long time to load.
We’ll take a quick detour to the right, into the Main Lounge. Here we can see the Random Hall Athena quickstation, which is nice to log in to quickly if you’re in the lounge and are bored or in a hurry.
Taking stock of the Main Lounge, we see Nina, our awesome, friendly, and helpful housemaster! She’s always happy to see you and she’s great to talk to. She’s standing in the middle of the Main Lounge, where house meetings and dorm-wide events are held – and where you’ll have the opportunity to participate in many Rush events. The Main Lounge is also Foo Lounge – three residents live on this all-male floor.
Leaving the lounge, we hear voices and glance upwards. It’s (clockwise from upper left) Shawn (shawest), Kenan (kdiab) and Josh (velsonj). They’re having an animated conversation, but they glance downwards at our shouting (and the flash from my camera :) )
As we enter the basement, the first thing we see is the Darkroom on our left. It is very dark in there, which is good if you want to develop photographs, but bad if you fear grues.
We take a right through a doorway, then another right. Before us we see AiW, Random Hall’s Alice in Wonderland Lounge – so called because its floor is purple, checkered, and non-planar. AiW is a great place to relax and watch movies and TV, or play video games on the 10′ screen. There’s also a pool table and a Foosball table.
… as well as a Coke machine, for when you’re too lazy to get a soda from the Random Hall Soda Fridge, which sells cans and bottles of soda at cost (as long as Desk is open, which is generally from 8AM to 2AM, but will be 24/7 during Rush).
Turning to our right, we see another of Random Basement’s amenities – the kitchen / music practice room. We have a piano that, in the words of Keach, is “almost in tune”, down here. Additionally, this is a fine place to work on group work or to prepare food for the entire dorm.
This room also contains
the printer, the most visible physical incarnation of J. Arthur Random, the legendary founder of Random Hall. Anyone can print here for free (though sometimes the printer runs out of paper). Next to it is the small copier, but as far as I know, it doesn’t see much use. Moving along.
Our laundry room is kind of a mess right now. I’ll stop to do my laundry, but we won’t linger long here. There are some nice things about our laundry room, though, one of which is the laundry server – a server which you can check to see if your laundry is done. More convenient than going to the basement!
Instead, let’s glance out the other door. Random has two entrances, one of which “anyone” can enter as long as they can pass the deskworker (the 290 side entrance – from 290 Massachusetts Avenue). The 282 side entrance requires a key, but can be used by any Random resident. The mailboxes for residents of the 282 side are also located here.
We take a right and head into Destiny floor – an all-male floor on the first story of the 282 side. The tale of how Destiny got its name is a fun one, but I’m not going to give it away here – ask a real tour guide :) Here we see some of the residents of Destiny tooling and punting – two activities common to Random residents. (Tooling – to work so hard on something that you forget everything else, what MIT basically requires, “to put one’s brain to the grindstone”; punting – to deliberately choose not to do something (“I punted that problem set”) or to engage in recreational activities instead of work (“I’m punting instead of doing my psets”))
Reaching the end of the hallway, we come across the entrance to one of the “small-halves”, a particular type of room that you may be placed in as a frosh. These tiny rooms are miniscule indeed, but are effectively singles and are therefore prized.
As we pass along one of Random’s narrow hallways, we see that our kind and friendly GRTs have put up some posters encouraging us to feel welcome. GRTs (Graduate Resident Tutors, known elsewhere as RAs) are graduate students who live in Random and serve as counselors and sources of advice, inspiration, and free food :)
Loop Kitchen is empty but festively decorated. Loop residents enjoy cooking, often making dishes for the entire dorm to enjoy. One of the greatest things about Random is its kitchens – the dorm could never be such a wonderful place to live without the dual benefits of communal hang-out space and the ability to cook one’s own food at any hour of day or night.
At any rate, we now head out the door towards Loop lounge. Loop lounge often has a cat in residence, but we don’t see him here. What we do see is our first glimpse of a floor lounge (most of which are shaped like this).
We’ve reached Clam floor, an all-male floor on the third story of 282. Note that we won’t see one of the notable aspects of Clam – the connecting hole in the firewall which joins it with BMF floor on the 290 side. This makes both Clam and BMF hubs for the social interactions of the dorm. However, we can get a good look at Clam kitchen, which is sadly empty (many dorm residents have summer jobs that have not yet ended; consequently, they are asleep).
We’ll head down the hallway. On our way, we’ll pass the Bonfire Stargate.
Entering the back stairwell, we see that, despite being on the highest floor of Random, the stairwell continues upward. We’ll ignore the “DO NOT ENTER” sign and proceed to climb the back stairwell once more.
We’ve arrived on Random’s roofdeck. Random is one of the few dorms to have a roofdeck – they’re prohibited by Cambridge housing codes, but Random has been grandfathered in. It’s a great place to host parties – or to come up to during the night and look at the Cambridge skyline (when the weather’s good, at any rate).
Glancing over towards the double, we can see inside. This “two room” is the other sort of room that is generally assigned to freshmen – it’s a large room shared between two people. We’ll leave it behind for now and head into the stairwell.
Passing through the door in front of us leads us to Pecker kitchen, which is entirely empty. To the right, we can see the Pecker kitchen blackboard, which is usually covered with equations and other miscellaneous mathematical scribblings. Pecker as a whole is renowned for its love of math.
Pecker kitchen is a good example of how Random’s kitchens are laid out. Each kitchen has a stove, a dishwasher, and a large sink, as well as a multitudinous assortment of cupboards, each of which houses food and dishes for a particular resident.
Black Hole is the floor where I live, and I enjoy living here very much. We’re a group of nerdy people whose interests include tabletop RPGs, building electronics, science fiction, coding for fun, advanced musical composition, video games, backpacking, live-action roleplaying, amateur radio, and so many more. Come check us out during Rush. </plug>
This is where I leave you – good luck, and have fun during Rush!
ternus at mit dot edu