You probably all realize that MIT
isn't the only school
. There's another one-- a little old brick thing some ways up the Charles River
known as Harvard
. Now, Harvard is a place that's always been fond of traditions. About thirty years ago, there were several administrators up at Harvard who had themselves a bright idea-- they would create a new tradition
Their idea was this: they would find a big, silver plate and engrave it with something inspiring, like "The Harvard Freshman Plate". Then, they would hide it in Harvard Yard the night before Orientation, and when the freshman arrived, they would be told that Orientation couldn't begin until they had found the Plate. The freshman would work together towards a goal, everyone would bond, and wouldn't it be wonderful? And so they set about to implement it for the next year.
Now, some MIT hackers heard about this idea, and were sitting around in
Coffeehouse one night when they decided that if an entire class of Harvard freshmen could find the plate in one morning, then a handful of MIT hackers could probably do it in a few hours! So the night before Harvard's Orientation, the
hackers went up to Harvard Yard, and poked around in bushes with flashlights, and sure enough, before too long, they'd found the Freshman Plate. But now what would they do with it?
The next morning, the President of MIT, a man named Paul Gray, walked into his office and discovered, sitting on his desk, a large silver plate with a note on it, reading "Some people up at Harvard are going to be looking for this."
So Paul Gray got out his fancy academic robes, and put on his funny doctoral hat. He called up all of his deans, and told them to "get out the academic regalia. We're going on a trip." He called up the Campus Police, and said "Get me an escort. I want every car you have-- we're going to make an impression." And then he took a cushion off of his couch, put the plate on it, and the entire gathering processed up Mass. Ave to Harvard.
The freshman had been out hunting the plate for about half an hour, and the Harvard administrators were looking on with pride when the procession came through the gates. With all pomp and circumstance, the MIT delegation came into Harvard Yard and up to the podium, and Paul Gray presented the President of Harvard with the Harvard Freshman Plate... courtesy of MIT.
And that was the end of that tradition.