Rotation Review

It’s been a month since Rotation ended and I’m finally ready to talk about it again.

Damn, that sounds so dramatic. It’s like I’m some celebrity breaking their silence about why the band broke up.

Let me start by saying, it’s not that deep. It’s just exhausting (as I’m sure you all are aware). As we all look back on Rotation, I imagine there are common themes and experiences we all can identify with. For many, if not all, of the returning students this was our first exposure to a “covid-free” Rotation, and this came with certain obligations to do the years of tradition and culture justice. As an Interhouse Committee, one of our primary concerns was to ensure that we did just so, but it can be difficult to recreate something for someone else that you’ve never experienced yourself. This struggle was amplified by a desire and impetus to make Rotation an inclusive and socially responsible event. Thus, many of us felt the stretching of mental gymnastics necessary to reconcile tradition with responsibility. I am incredibly proud of the ways in which student leaders across campus navigated these difficulties; you were empathetic and receptive to the changes that were being asked of you while advocating for the traditions that define the Caltech undergraduate community.

To be entirely transparent and provide context, the Caltech administration asked the Houses to remove or rethink a variety of activities associated with Rotation in the name of being socially conscious, and the impacts of this touched each of the Houses. The Blacker potato cannon wasn’t fired; the baby bird in Ricketts was never fed; ASCIT fireworks didn’t go off. These are just a few examples of things that were omitted from 2023 Rotation in the name of responsibility, and while these omissions can be frustrating and disappointing, I ask you all to consider the following requests. First, please don’t take out these frustrations on your student leaders; they are simply messengers doing their best to play with the hand this school has dealt them. Second, try to keep in mind that the adjustments were not made baselessly. The reasoning behind many of these changes was aimed at being conscientious of student experiences and how they may affect their perceptions of Caltech and the House system. Caltech is a kind, thoughtful, and progressive community, and I have complete confidence that out of respect and sensitivity for one another we can recognize the importance of supporting and embracing the needs of those around us. By no means is this to say that we must completely write-off our long standing traditions. In fact, one of my biggest hopes is to address how we can better adapt our traditions so that they are most reflective of Caltech’s rich undergraduate history while being considerate of the privilege we have to pioneer inclusivity and social awareness. Lastly, I ask everyone to remember that change can be momentum for improvement. I am entirely sure that the creativity and problem solving ability of students in the Houses will persevere and we will find ways in which Caltech traditions can be preserved. If you have doubts about this, that’s ok. However I encourage you to find faith in the leaders you have elected. They’re all basically rocket scientists. If they can handle the academic rigor of this Institution, I would like to think that they can handle the non-academic rigors as well.

The current social directors, presidents, chancellors, excomms and other student leaders have certainly demonstrated this capability, and I want to thank you all for what you have done. As I outlined above, there were a variety of nuances that graced this year’s Rotation, and you all coordinated to produce a week’s worth of fun, engaging, exciting events to kick off the year and welcome our new students into the Caltech community. Further, for any administrative members, I offer my gratitude to you as well. There is much of Rotation that places a heavy burden on many Caltech offices including (but by no means limited to) Housing, OSE, and CDS. I will take the liberty of saying we are all grateful for the work you do and the ways in which you support this crazy, hectic and wonderful tradition. I also extend many thanks to the new students who went through Rotation with open minds and bright eyes. As you all are beginning to understand, Caltech can dim that light at times, so the opportunity to bring new energy and excitement to the Houses is a privilege we take very seriously. You all did a phenomenal job at immersing yourselves in the chaos of Rotation, and I thank each of you for your willingness to do so. One more thank you to all of the returning students whose dedication and commitment to the Houses is the driving factor behind a successful Rotation. You are the shaping force that embodies the Caltech undergraduate experience, and I am so appreciative of the support and enthusiasm you bring to both Rotation, and the Housing system in general.

As you may be able to tell, I have lots of gratitude regarding Rotation and the people involved with it, and that includes being thankful that it’s over. Each Rotation is different from the last, and the challenges are never the same, but no matter what there are challenges. In other words, “the world’s always been ending”. Hence, I want to acknowledge that this Rotation may not have been perfect, but we did it nonetheless. So congratulations, Caltech. As an IHC, I know we are thrilled for the class of ‘27 and thrilled to have them in each of the houses.

If you have any questions or want more details about Rotation. Please reach out to me.