Letters to the Editor

AEPhi Recruiting In 2006 Was Honest

In an age where you can learn more about a person from the internet than you can from meeting him or her face to face, leave it to me to have not “Googled” myself since my first semester at MIT nearly 6 years ago. I recently left Cambridge to begin graduate school, and I couldn’t help but begin to wonder whether my new friends and colleagues were sneaking a curious peek at my life via Google, MySpace, Facebook, and the like. I searched for my name today and unfortunately came upon an article which, to this day, still irks me with its inaccuracies and implications as to my actions as well as those of my sisters during recruitment: “AEPhi’s Return to Jewish Identity Spurs De-pledgings, De-affiliations.” As such, I would like to take the opportunity to correct a few things.

The article contains a statement by Liz Katcoff which refers to a period seven years ago in which members were, according to her, “lying about our identity in order to get more members.” I’m not sure what happened in 1999; however, I take strong issue with the fact that the 2006 recruitment was referred to as a similar event. I oversaw the entirety of recruitment and never heard a falsity uttered by one of my sisters. I have tremendous respect for all of them. In addition, I confronted the problem of communication head-on during the Work Week that preceded formal recruitment; in order to make AEPhi’s heritage known during recruitment without instilling the belief that non-Jewish members were unwelcome, I had the chapter collectively write and vote to approve the following statement (based largely on the national organization’s mission statement) concerning AEPhi’s identity:

“A long time ago, AEPhi was started by seven Jewish women because they were not allowed into other sororities because of their Jewish heritage. They got together and started AEPhi with two goals in mind: First, welcoming women of all backgrounds and beliefs with open arms. Second, creating an environment that would be a supportive ‘home away from home’ for its members.”

In addition, I required each member to memorize that statement so as to minimize confusion and maximize accuracy when describing our sorority to potential new members. I share this information with the hope that everyone will know the tremendous dedication and character that every AEPhi sister demonstrated during Recruitment 2006.

Editor’s Note: The original article, which describes de-pledgings, the viewpoint of new AEPhi members, and the secret AEPhiJews@mit.edu mailing list, is available online at http://www-tech.mit.edu/V126/N15/15aephi.html. The Tech stands by its reporting.

China Cartoon Was Insulting

I am writing here to voice my anger towards the cartoons in last two issues of The Tech.

As the largest newspaper on campus, the voices published through The Tech seems to represent the viewpoint of the students and the school. A lot of Chinese students studying in MIT have interpreted the cartoons as an insult to our motherland by biasing the truth and propagating the wrong images. The school itself cannot have such a subjective judgment by hosting outstanding faculty and students with critical thinking skills.

Regarding the existence of human rights, I cannot help but ask: why do you think there are so many Chinese students coming abroad to study if no freedom is allowed? How come undergraduate students from China and other parts of the world are comparable in terms of both technical skills and knowledge background without the dramatically improved education in China?

The central government system is always a target for western countries and western press. The fact is that in protecting sovereignty, stabilizing society, ensuring economic development, and improving the wellness of its people, China has done a wonderful job in the eyes of the whole world: China has an increasing GPA each year, a reformed educational system, and a relatively low rate of crime given the size of the country. No other country would have performed so effectively and with such breath-taking promptness to SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) in the year 2001.

Even if you disagree with Chinese students on political issues, applying sarcasm to the 2008 Olympics hosted in Beijing deviates from Olympic spirit per se. The official Olympic Motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” a Latin phrase meaning “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.” In none of the above three words, can I see any trace of politics. The Olympics, an international sporting event, is supposed to be separate from political meddling.

Without a thorough study of Chinese history and policies, cartoons like those shown in The Tech are not only insulting to Chinese students in general but also to the editors of this newspaper. I hope The Tech can apply caution when it is using its power as a public media at MIT.

News Brief Not Amusing

I was almost amused to read The Tech’s news brief about how the MIT News Office may have violated federal law. My question is this — which Tech staffer was it who saw the issue of Tech Talk and decided to whip out a ruler? My follow up is — which editor actually thought that this incident (which would most likely never be prosecuted, since Tech Talk is quite clearly not intending to circulate counterfeit money) was worthy of front page news? And finally — do any of you wonder why your publication is a campus-wide joke?

Nicholson is an MIT admissions blogger and a former Tech staff reporter.

Editor’s Note: The News Office sent The Tech the following statement: “As soon as the News Office was made aware of this, its staff took immediate action, including pulling all remaining issues of the paper from campus drop-off locations and removing the image from its website.

The News Office thanks the staff of the Tech for bringing the matter to our attention.”

Different Voice on Olympics

Creative license in political cartoons is valued by viewers, but I find the cartoon that was published by The Tech on April 8th went too far and was pure imagination. The author apparently knows little about current China. He used a Chinese government official from the 1960s, as indicated by his uniform, to address the upcoming 2008 event. The exaggeration of Chinese people’s suffering and hardship is also misleading. China indeed has many problems including human rights just as many other countries have in their history, but China has made tremendous improvements in the past decades since 1978 when the open-door policy was adopted.

Having grown up in China, I am certain that our younger generations are the most fortunate generations compared to our parents and grandparents. I am proud of what the Chinese people have achieved so far due to a series of reforms, and feel excited to witness the continuous progress in the future, including the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games. The Olympics provide a wonderful opportunity for people from other countries to see China through their own eyes, rather than through the media. China will also benefit from the improved mutual understanding. Bashing the Beijing Olympics as this cartoon did will do nothing good, instead breaching the Olympic spirit and hurting the feelings of Chinese people. If all the human rights arguments as claimed are for the benefit of the Chinese, this cartoon suggests a lose-lose solution. People want China to change, but when China is changing, are they able to see it and acknowledge it?

Parking Policies Discourage Alternative Transportation

MIT’s Parking & Transportation Office offers two kinds of parking plans to faculty and staff: full time and occasional (eight uses per month).

However, full time parkers at MIT have more choices — and more preferable parking locations — than occasional parkers. This policy discourages the use of alternative transportation to MIT. Furthermore, those full-time parkers who would wish to change their status to occasional parking are required to pay a $30 fee to change — a penalty for trying to do the right thing.

MIT’s parking policies can become even more peculiar. A recent broken leg has made it impossible to drive or walk for several months. As I was canceling my parking pass, I was told that I would not be able to park in my previous convenient location in the future. When I asked if my family members could use my “hand-free” transponder to come in on weekends to pick up mail, books, and other bulky items, the Parking & Transportation Office informed me that it would only be possible with a $30 surcharge and $28/month for a few weekend trips. Thus, when my mobility comes back I will have to hike farther, busy family members are prevented from helping me do my job from home, and I am penalized for taking the T in the future.

Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering