Busy Beavers emerged back in the beginning of March of 2020, when we all left campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to create an online space open to the entire MIT community where people could socialize with one another, as a way to at least somewhat digitally bridge the physical divide caused by the pandemic so that everyone could stay connected with each other.
The first few days were a bit chaotic, as we had loads of people joining and no real fixed plan for what we wanted Busy Beavers to eventually turn into. Even then, though, we managed to set up a MIT ID verification bot, started setting up an assortment of channels on the Discord, and recruited people to join our mod team. We also sought, and got, a lot of feedback from all the people who joined the Discord.
As the weeks progressed, we strove to maintain some base level of engagement on the Discord and reached out to other organizations (student clubs, admin offices, etc) to collaborate with. Although we were busy with our own PSets and projects and what not, and although we started with only a vague plan on how to move forward with Busy Beavers, we managed to do some great things nonetheless.
For example, the MIT Minecraft server, which originally started organically on the Busy Beavers Discord server by MIT students just coordinating with one another, has now grown beyond us, and is being used by various clubs and organizations on campus! We have also provided feedback for and worked alongside the organizers of the virtual CP* for incoming freshmen. And more recently, we created a channel where students could ask questions about various things (leaves of absence, etc.) to S^3 deans. That’s on top of all the game nights and movie watch parties and other events we ran, along with all the interaction and chatting that has occurred organically on our Discord, of course, ranging from underclassmen asking for advice to people posting pictures of their pets. All in all, even though things could have probably been a bit more organized when we started out initially, it feels really fulfilling to see the positive impact we’ve made on the MIT community. (Image from: https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/minecraft-mit/)
This term, we’ve continued to run various events, such as game nights and movie watch parties, that have been quite successful. We’ve also reached out to and collaborated with various other student organizations on campus, in order to try to make a more virtual cohesive experience for the members of the MIT community.
Now, we’re starting to gear up for the spring term and for the return of more students to campus. For example, we’ve set up channels to facilitate pod searching and other aspects of on campus living. More generally, we hope to be a useful resource and fun place to hang out for MIT students for as long as this pandemic continues, if not longer!