Letters to the Editor

EECS Numbers Inaccurate

The Oct. 14 article “Gender Ratios Vary Widely Across MIT Courses” nicely summarized the statistics on gender diversity within the undergraduate population.

These numbers reflect hard work by many people at the Institute: in the admissions office, within individual departments, and elsewhere, to make the intellectual and social climate more welcoming for all students, and to encourage qualified students to consider MIT.

Examples include outreach programs like the Women’s Technology Program, a summer residence program for high school rising seniors; and HKN’s Women’s Initiative, a program that sends some of our women engineering students to talk to middle and high school classes about the excitement of careers in engineering.

By taking a current snapshot, based on the Registrar’s data, however, one does not get a sense of trends over time. For example, in my department, the relative increase in the percentage of women students has been much higher than the Institute average.

Since 1998, the percentage of women undergraduates in EECS has gone from 22.2 to 31.7, a relative change of 43% percent Over the same period, the School of Engineering percentage went from 32.9 to 39.9, a relative change of 21 percent; and MIT went from 40.6 to 45.4, a relative change of 12 percent.

I am sure that some other departments have seen similar changes, reflecting concerted efforts to improve the departmental climate for all students.

As a final note, it is unfortunate that incorrect numbers were reported for Course VI in the article. The overall percentage is correctly reported as 31.7; however, correct numbers for VI-1, VI-2 and VI-3 are 37, 32.2 and 29.1 percent respectively.

Tech Biased

I find several recent Tech articles disturbingly biased. To start things off, on October 17 you published a piece about the Lobby 7 student protest — before the protest had even happened.

Between the lines of that article I read two things. First, Tech staff was in contact with the organizers of the protest before the protest happened. And probably that staff even helped in the execution of the protest—which I think is inappropriate for conscientious journalists.

The second thing I read between the lines was that the Tech was not even interested in what the opposing side, the administration, had to say. By publishing that article the day of the demonstration, The Tech totally precluded the administration from responding at all to the protest.

Great job, Tech. You “got the scoop” but you totally destroyed any hope of fair coverage.

The second article that upset me was in the Oct. 21 article, “Graduate Student Faces Charges for Assaulting an Officer, Resisting Arrest.” What happened was that a guest at a List Visual Arts Center event was caught carrying a blunt.

The guest resisted arrest and needed three cops to pin him to the ground. This happened a year ago; the only thing that makes it relevant today is the impending trial. But the article wasn’t about the trial; it was about the “excessive force” the police used in the arrest. The only substantiation of this “excessive force” was a single witness who admits to seeing only part of the arrest.

Let’s get real. The only reason The Tech ran the article was to smear the administration and support recent student complaints about hacking consequences. The Tech’s interest in the facts of the situation was clouded by its agenda of attacking the administration.

This is ridiculous. The work of the police is more important than our hacking, and the police deserve more respect.

As I understand, one of the protestors’ complaints last Friday was lack of representation in administration decisions. The Tech is in a unique position to show the administration what we students mean by fairness.

The Tech does a good service to the MIT community as our oldest newspaper, but it could do an even better job by covering events in a non-biased manner. Step up to the plate and be fair.

Editor’s Note: The Tech played no role in the planning of the protest. We stand by our reporting.

DiFava Comments Unsatisfactory

As someone who has very high regard for the MIT Police, I was surprised and disappointed to read MIT Director of Facilities and Security John DiFava’s comments about allegations that members of the MIT Police used excessive force in a recent arrest (Oct. 21, “Graduate Student Faces Charges for Assaulting an Officer, Resisting Arrest.”).

In a patronizing and seemingly egotistical response, he simply dismisses the concerns of Cambridge resident Andrew Richardson, saying that “There is no excessive force on the MIT police force because I would not allow it.” DiFava then goes on to say, “... they don’t know what it’s like … It’s probably the first or second arrest someone has seen in his life.”

What DiFava would or wouldn’t allow has nothing to do with whether or not excessive force was used, unless DiFava has the ability control people telepathically. And if the force used was disturbing to a bystander, even one inexperienced with arrests, shouldn’t that at least be cause for further inquiry?

While I believe that DiFava was correct in his assessment of the arrest (as evidenced by the fact that the arrested person will not press charges), any reports of excessive force should be thoroughly investigated and handled with the utmost seriousness, not dismissed with a pat on the head.

Stop Complaining

I recently took a look at the Tech for the first time in many years. Admittedly, I am a dinosaur compared to the freshman whose opinion you published; nevertheless I was taken aback.

Students now complain about having to walk across campus for food? It’s not even that large a campus! What will happen when this student enters the work world and finds that a job may require a long commute or that long distance travel is required periodically?

Your circumstances are different now than when you were at home. You attend MIT, not another school with a different system for feeding their students. You are smart enough to figure out ways to make it work without requiring help from the school administration. You go to MIT for crying out loud!