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Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups
Type: Independent Living Group
Address: 69 Chestnut St, Cambridge
Established: 1969

pika is a co-ed Independent Living Group (ILG) at MIT.

Visit pika's web site, befriend us on facebook, and join our social mailing list!

pika is located in the residential Cambridgeport neighborhood; pikans live in their three-story house.

The House

pikans call home a 3-story former boarding house, vintage 1910. The house has been continually remodeled and improved since its purchase in 1970 and currently contains 13 doubles and 6 singles, making capacity about 32 people. At the beginning of each term all pikans enter a lottery to choose rooms and roommates. Because of the lottery system, everyone has an equal chance of getting first-pick or last-pick room: there is no seniority.

All of the rooms at pika have unique characteristics from lofts or sleeping closets to window seats, hardwood floors, murals, and porch access. pikans can also choose to make substantial changes to their rooms. That doesn't mean they're allowed to paint the walls, that means they're allowed to MOVE the walls - with the approval of the rest of the house, of course. Each room contains two Ethernet connections for high-speed internet access, and there is wireless access throughout the house.

Other features include a computer room with 4 machines running the MIT operating system, a darkroom, 2 free washers and driers, bicycle storage areas, a television room/library, 2 living rooms, a storage room, extra bicycles for emergency use, a piano, open pantry, a workroom with a wide selection of tools, an industrial size kitchen, a massive dinning room, parking, an herb and vegetable garden, a tree house, and an intricate series of porches and decks.

Take A House Tour!

Co-op Life

What is co-operative housing? For one thing, it means that the residents are responsible for maintaining the house. All pika's residents are asssigned a house duty each quarter; each person is responsible for a particular area of the house, like a common room or a bathroom. In addition, each semester we elect a new housemanager. There are always two housemanagers, who are responsible for overseeing house functions and taking care of any problems that might arise.

Being a co-op also means that we have no seniority, and no pledge period. Once you accept a bid at pika, you are a full member, with the same rights and privileges as everyone else. As a member, there are a few requirements in additon to the house duty and kitchen duty. We all participate in three house functions per year: work week, a week at the end of August where we clean and repair the house; work weekend, a weekend in February reserved for cleaning the house; and Retreat, a weekend trip to somewhere pretty, also in February, where we discuss issues related to living at pika.

On average, each member contributes 2-4 hours per week to "co-operative living." We think it's a fair trade for a clean house and home-cooked dinners every night of the week.

Our members are generally pretty social, and we like to throw parties and have fun. While we don't place restrictions on anyone's recreational activities, we ask that everyone practice responsibility, respect and safety. To this end, we are a dry house, meaning that we do not serve alcohol at parties.


pika has an open kitchen and pantry stocked with staples including cereal, a variety of breads, juice, milk, fruit, vegetables, sandwich materials, soup, and crackers. Breakfast and lunch are do-it-yourself. Once a week every pikan either cooks dinner or cleans up afterwards as part of a team. Also, 2 people are elected as kitchen stewards; they are in charge of buying all of the food for the cooks every week, restocking staples, and purchasing food that has been requested. pika also provides pantry and refrigerator space for personal food. The best thing about our meal plan is that you don't have to live here to be on it. For a small fee (less than you'll pay to eat on campus), and the willingness to perform a kitchen duty, you can enjoy a freshly cooked meal every day of the week.

Learn more about Meal Plan!


pika is located at 69 Chestnut Street in residential Cambridgeport, just under a mile away from 77 Massachusetts Ave. We enjoy being in the center of the town, where a 15 minute walk will take you to MIT campus (5 minutes on a bike), two T (subway) lines, a supermaket, a movie theater, and downtown Boston. A little more walking and you reach Harvard square. A little less and you're sitting on the bank of the Charles river. Residential Cambridgeport features narrow streets with brick sidewalks shaded by trees, and pika is next door to a day care center and across the street from the home of an MIT physics professor. Down the block are Stefani's pizza and Sid's corner store.

Get Directions to pika!


After beginning to coalesce in 1969, pika formally became the Eta Delta chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha (a.k.a. PiKA), an all-male fraternity, in 1970 after successfully petitioning MIT to enter the Inter-Fraternity Council. In 1974, PiKA began asking MIT for permission to go co-ed. The administration rejected the first petition, but in the spring of 1975 it gave PiKA the green light to rush women the next fall.

In 1980 the residents of PiKA decided to leave the national organization; since then, we have been an Independent Living Group (ILG). MIT provided generous financial support by purchasing the house from the PiKA national and refinancing the morgage at a lower interest rate. By 1982 all connections with the national had been severed. We stopped using the names "PiKA" and "Pika", and now refer to ourselves simply as "pika" (all lowercase).

pika has always practiced co-operative living and has generally maintained a female to male ratio of about 1:1. MIT is just now approaching this ratio among its undergraduate population in 2003.

In the fall of 2001 pika began accepting graduate students.

More History!


The official recreational activity ("sport") of pika is shoeblade. Many a pikan has entered the murph on a warm summer night to engage in a hearty round of shoeblade with his/her fellow housemates. The official beverage of shoeblade players is the bittermelon smoothie.

The goal of shoeblade is to put as many shoes as possible on the six blades of the ceiling fan in the Murph using a firestaff. Players must remain seated in one of the couches and may only use a firestaff to lift shoes from ground level to ceiling-fan level.

The illustrious evolution of shoeblade into its present form has lead to a vast lexicon of shoeblade-specific terminology. A brief glossary follows:

rotor - An extremely difficult move in which a player shoes the blade by rotating the fan such that it knocks the shoe off the firestaff, landing on the blade. Should only be attempted by technically-skilled players.

blender - A failed attempt to pull a rotor.

cranking - Slang for playing shoeblade. A traditional cheer by shoeblade spectators is, "Crank it!" (often yelled when the blade is about to be shod).

inverse shoeblade - Removing shoes from the blade using a firestaff.

the Brian Hepler - Removing shoes from the blade using one's arms.

the Great Migration - Accidentally knocking off all the shoes already on the fan while playing shoeblade.

the Shoeblade Blues - The official anthem of shoeblade. Lyrics: I went down to the river / got down on my knees / and then I played shoeblade.

pika homepage | pika location | pika on Facebook
Pika User Manual | Culture | Our history | House | How we work | Kitchen
Our many mailing lists | MIT ILG Rush
Private (most things of interest only to pikans have been moved here)