Letters to the Editor

Remembering the “Manus”

The motto of the Institute is “Mens et Manus,” which literally translated means “Mind and Hand.” One can only speculate as to the exact intentions of the founders, but this expression can be taken as emphasizing the importance of both thinking and doing, or equally as emphasizing the importance of one’s mind and one’s body.

Both are, in my view, fundamental aspects of MIT and an MIT education. One of the primary ways in which MIT achieves the latter interpretation of its motto is through its varsity sports, club teams, and physical education offerings. The diversity of athletic offerings, and more importantly the balance and “other” type of education it provides students, is something that makes MIT very special.

As a graduate student, I have seen and experienced firsthand the tremendous benefits athletics at MIT provides for students. Whether it’s the opportunity to explore and try something you’ve never had a chance to before, the ability to pursue something you’ve always enjoyed, or it’s just an escape from all the pressures of academics, the value of sports — especially those that are not “mainstream” and apparently on the chopping block — cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

Despite some stereotypes, MIT and MIT students are not one-dimensional. At least not right now. To eliminate any athletics and their associated facilities in a rash cost-cutting measure would not only be short-sighted, but it would also destroy the very fabric of what makes this place special.

I urge those with the power to affect the future of athletics at MIT not to do anything now that would cost the Institute dearly in both the near- and long-term future, and to find whatever means necessary to preserve (or even expand) the athletic offerings at MIT.

PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering

Take it off the Table

With all due gravity to the Institute’s financial predicament, cutting Athletics is not something that should be on the table. Of all of my experiences at MIT, the Swimming & Diving team was the most rewarding. Even in that old, dingy, alumni pool, beyond the hard work and pain, our team had something very special.

Now we have a wonderful new pool, one of the finest around. My teammates and I shared an incredible experience, one that is difficult to explain to those who haven’t experienced it, but surely athletes from other teams feel similarly. The determination and hard work (and pain) that go into being a successful athlete are important components to success in life, so it is no wonder that many of the most successful leaders in industry were varsity athletes in college.

More generally, MIT’s athletics programs are of critical importance to student life, and in particular mental health. After being beaten down by problem sets and labs, students rely on athletic activities to unwind and release stress. I would not be surprised if the reduction in athletics programs is more than offset by increased visits to MIT Medical’s Mental Health unit. Our sports teams are a source of pride, especially with so many highly competitive teams. People in the outside world have trouble fathoming that MIT Swimming is a Top 10 D-3 school, and routinely beats the Coast Guard, or that MIT Pistol beats the US Army.

MIT will get through this financial crisis, but MIT should not ruin the lives of students over a million dollars, a drop in the bucket even now. I would encourage MIT to allow students to do fundraising to help offset some of the costs associated with their programs, which is something that some in the MIT have opposed in the past (such as our Swimming calendar, which would have raised over ten thousand dollars).

Former Captain, MIT Swimming & Diving