Campus Life

Imminent Collapse

On Institutes of Technology, and the Rivalries Thereof

Before we begin properly today, let me first ask: are you a CalTech student? If so, I must ask, in all seriousness: WTF?

For those curious just WTF I'm talking about, a brief history lesson: two years ago this week, CalTech came by and "pranked" us. That's their way of saying they "hacked" us. (For you newer pre-frosh, a "hack" is some kind of nifty stunt that requires odd skills and impresses and awes). I use all those quotes, though, because their idea of showing us up was to put up some inflatable palm trees and hand out some T-shirts. After flying all the way out here, and (presumably) flying back. It was unexpected, and kind of funny; not, like, 'what a great joke' funny, but 'what a laughable stunt.'

It seems that CalTech has what we in the medical profession (which I'm in because my fiancée goes to med school) call a chip on their shoulder. They really shouldn't, you know, since their research is just as ground-breaking as ours (as I'm sure those of you who are considering going there know). For some reason, though, MIT is waaaaay better known than CalTech. Sure, ours is an older, more distinguished, more well-rounded, more cultural school, but what difference should that make? Enough, it seems, for them to be madly jealous of us. Well, that's understandable, since we here are pretty jealous of Hahvahd (for pretty much all of the same reasons actually).

So, in an effort to bring themselves to our level, fame-icly speaking, some CalTech'ers decided to start a rivalry between the two schools. Hence CalTech's cute little "prank." We all pretty much shrugged it off, like an elephant shrugs off a fly trying to bite it, or like Hahvahd shrugs off our awesome hacks on their football games and campus. Even despite certain administrators urging us to keep this friendly rivalry going, there was basically no interest in it. The rivalry, like disco, was dead. Or was it? (Not disco.)

The next CPW, last year's, had an unexpected visitor: CalTech's big-ass cannon. Somehow, magically, the Fleming Cannon appeared in front of the Green Building, instead of staying in California like everyone expected it to. Plus, this giant cannon now had a gigantic brass rat (MIT's school ring, which comes pretty gigantic to begin with) around it; despite the imagery, it was a pretty great demonstration of CalTech getting screwed. It was great on many levels: not only did we totally school those CalTech'ers, not only did we show the world how much better MIT really was, not only did they have to come back with their tails between their legs to collect the dumb thing (and rudely refuse the breakfast prepared for them), but on top of all that there was a great picture taken with lots of MIT girls in bikinis posing on it. Awesome.

So that's that, we all figure. How could anyone possibly one-up whisking away a multi-ton object across the country? No way would they show their sorry Californian, probably sun-burned faces around here. But, sadly, no one believes it. Why, just now when someone learned what I was writing, they said, "Oh yeah, they're gonna do something." To which someone else responded, angrily, "What the hell! They're not at our level!" Which, as I said before, they're just not. What'll they do this time, hand out dress shirts? Put up inflated cannons with "U suck MIT!" on them?

Now, a life lived in science has taught me many things, but chief among those is humility. You never know for sure how an experiment will turn out, and even a genius like Newton could be totally wrong. So sure, I suppose there's also the chance that CalTech might actually hack us pretty good. I mean, anything's possible right? Maybe they'll take advantage of our unscientific hubris, or perhaps they've been doing nothing but failing classes and planning a spectacular event for a year now. But even on that off-chance, what, do they think we'll take it lying down? Don't they know that, should they try anything even remotely approaching cool this year, we'll smack them down so hard next year they'll have to look up to tie their shoes?

Thus, my pre-opening question. Since we're all pretty much expecting CalTech (thus validating this stupid rivalry), there's a chance that one of them, on their time off, picked up a copy of The Tech. It'd be pretty natural for them, actually, since their campus newspaper is called the same thing. There's a chance that they'll be flipping through, see CalTech written all over this page and start reading. And, I hope, there's a chance they'll realize the futility of their actions. Why are you doing this? What do you hope to achieve? Truly, my friend: WTF?