An MIT Alumni Association Publication

Arrrrr! MIT Pirates Certified

  • Nancy DuVergne Smith
  • 39

Filed Under

Sophomore Jacob Hurwitz is an official MIT pirate.

An underground novelty has surfaced into official MIT culture. Although student pirates have existed informally for some 20 years, the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER) has issued the first pirate certificates to six students who have completed the requirements. The arrrrr, arrrrr, arrrrr'ing must have been heard across the river because the Boston Globe just covered the news with an article and a video.

What are the requirements? Students must complete four physical education courses: pistol, archery, sailing, and fencing. There is also rumor of a secret oath.

Sophomore Jacob Hurwitz, featured in the video, says pirate lore fits nicely into MIT's campus culture.

Rachel Clark: "I'm going for my pirates license."

"In geek culture, there is a big pirates vs. ninjas war," Hurwitz says. "I'm on the pirates side. I think pirates do a lot more. They do sword fighting, sailing, collecting treasure. All ninjas do is hide."

And what do the students receive? The certificates, authorized by the “swashbuckling" Institute, are printed on faux parchment and affirm that the named “salty dog’’ is entitled to a pirate certificate “with all its privileges and obligations thereof." And surely they celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19.

Don't expect to see these newly hatched pirates commandeering boats up and down the Charles River. The certificate limits actual pirating to “entertainment purposes only.”

Official MIT pirates certificate.

Filed Under



Thu, 08/08/2013 10:41pm

Well that, and the Barbary and French Corsairs.

In reply to by Dylan

Dmitry Kolosov

Wed, 04/04/2012 7:26pm

That's a relief. So MIT is not glorifying murderers. Just terrorists.

In reply to by Capt Blargh


Sun, 03/11/2012 10:34pm

False: Pirates have existed at MIT since 1912, although our letters of marque were forcibly merged after 2007. Long live XIII !
see here for proof, matey:

Ninja Ambassador

Fri, 08/02/2013 11:32pm

Of course there's a ninja certificate. We just like to keep it a secret.

In reply to by Chunmeista

Marvin Murdock

Fri, 05/03/2013 2:34pm

i would like to become a pirate


Tue, 08/07/2012 4:58pm

Nice to see that parents and grantors money being well spent, after graduation the students will be well set for a life in high finance, politics or perhaps lobbyists

Dmitry Kolosov

Fri, 03/09/2012 6:28pm

Do Somalia pirates get these certificates? Do you also certify murderers, thieves, other types of criminals?

Capt Blargh

Wed, 03/28/2012 10:36pm

Historically, pirates a lot less actual murdering than you might think. They had such great PR -- that is to say that they projected such a fearsome image and were surrounded by sufficient lore -- that most of their targets surrendered without shots being fired or blood being shed (it helps that their targets were usually hired crews of merchant vessels carrying plenty of insurance). It could be said that this was one of the first uses of "terror" and "terrorism" to achieve a specific goal -- intentional or not.

In reply to by Dmitry Kolosov


Sat, 07/06/2013 8:51am

What about distillery? Rum must be made.


Fri, 09/06/2013 5:37pm

Someone wasn't hugged enough as a child.

In reply to by Capt Blargh

Lady Cas

Wed, 05/10/2017 12:01am

No business, language, history, explosives, or literature classes required? As fun as the listed classes may be, I'd think it would be a little more in depth than a few phys ed classes.


Wed, 11/21/2012 11:09am

Ahhh the perils of alliteration...

In reply to by Jeremy


Tue, 08/07/2012 6:04am

They need a "Ninja" certification too! (would focus more on physical endurance/agility):
*Some sort of Martial Arts course*
Ultimate Frisbee (yeah, it doesn't sound that impressive, but closest thing I could think of to throwing something)


Tue, 08/07/2012 4:48pm

@ Jeff, except that torrent does not automatically equal pirating.

In reply to by Jeff Plum


Sat, 01/14/2017 11:59am

You definitely need to pick a cool pirate name, Marvin Murdock - Murdock the Murderdeck Master, or something more bad arse

In reply to by Marvin Murdock


Sat, 01/14/2017 11:55am

Well these days there are a lot of vocations that are making comebacks

In reply to by Max


Sat, 01/14/2017 11:52am

You're correct, if the wind was in David of the pirate aggressor the merchant ship would strike their colours and hoist/loose a flag of terms, once terms were agreed it was a surrendering of cargo but sparing the crews lives and in a lot of cases they could keep the ship, too much attention for British pirates to be sailing a French or Spanish man of war or privateer ship.. also just as a bonus piece of historical knowledge, the first forces to use terror, terrorism and psychological tactics were the hashashins, aka assassins who were alawhite Muslims, lived in the mountain stronghold of alamut and spared Salahadin... also pirates were notorious for dabbling in homosexuality

In reply to by Capt Blargh


Sat, 01/14/2017 11:45am

You raise an excellent point, also the art of wenching mustn't be forgotten nor ignored

In reply to by mordantkitten

John Smith

Sun, 11/08/2015 9:47pm

Student life is important too. With such notoriously rigorous academics, without silly things like this to take the load off, most of the MIT students would probably go insane.

In reply to by Max

Nancy DuVergne Smith

Mon, 03/12/2012 11:50am

So MIT pirates have an even longer and richer history! Thanks for letting us know.

In reply to by James

Jeff Plum

Tue, 08/07/2012 2:17pm

I'd just like to point out that there are three different types of pirates:

1) Treasure Island variety (see article)
2) Terrorists (including Somalian sea-terrorists)
3) Torrenters


Wed, 02/15/2017 8:03pm

OMG these comments are HILARIOUS!


Sat, 01/14/2017 11:54am

Hahaha... they try, but the Navy Seals are the ones that 'grade' their final exams, is very tough and has a lot of bullet points in the presentation

In reply to by Dmitry Kolosov

future ninja

Wed, 03/23/2016 11:30pm

how do I obtain such ninja certificate

In reply to by Ninja Ambassador

N.P Griffin, Q…

Tue, 05/12/2015 8:37am

Get a grip Dimitry, it's a joke and in good fun. There is always one wet diaper to ruin the fun...and you'd be it matey......

In reply to by Dmitry Kolosov


Fri, 04/24/2015 10:50am

Dmitry needs to push himself away from the computer and go for a walk. The fresh air will do him good.

In reply to by Beez

Cael MacAyre

Sat, 07/06/2013 10:53am

Comedy equals tragedy plus time

In reply to by Dmitry Kolosov


Wed, 01/25/2017 1:02pm

Is there an option to complete the certification online? For activities in shooting, boating etc, students could upload video as evidence of them completing the requirements.

Or, there are things like conceal and carry permits that show evidence of firearm training and competence.


Fri, 12/13/2013 11:46pm

You forgot the fourth kind of pirating... butt pirates...

In reply to by Jbrem


Sat, 01/14/2017 11:43am

I'm very interested in becoming possibly the first international correspondent student who was born in a country where the first police forces members were the best behaved criminals

Jesse labbe

Tue, 01/03/2017 11:56pm

Hi I would like to acquire a certificate, how much is it and where are you located?

Randall Garriott

Wed, 09/14/2016 6:56pm

The "Sailing" part of this kept me SANE in 1958-9 ---- Thank you Sailing Master...


Thu, 08/27/2015 3:29pm

Can I get Pirate certified online?

Iara La Sirena

Tue, 07/21/2015 9:51pm

Arrrr! Is this offered in OpenCourseWare? :D

John Chase

Fri, 10/25/2013 6:01am

Is there a way to MOOC this??

David Bodman

Thu, 08/08/2013 8:58pm

Do they do correspondence courses? or Proficiency tests?


Fri, 10/19/2012 2:47am

do you have to be an MIT student to enroll in the pirate program?

Chris G

Wed, 03/28/2012 8:36pm

Can pirates receive their certificates retroactively? I've completed all of these courses and would very much like to be rewarded for my harrd work.

Walt Crosby

Thu, 03/08/2012 1:23pm

That's fantastic -- what a great idea!