Letters to the Editor

Alum Fed Up With Admins

I gradutated M.I.T. in 2000, just in time to see a thriving campus life undercut time after time by overzealous security measures enacted by spineless administrators in the face of mobs of Cambridge citizens and failed parents looking to the university system as a surrogate. I’ve seen the fraternity system whittled down and student freedoms trampled, their voices silenced on issue after issue, as former school bureaucrats move on to positions of power (or is that infamy) in certain (here unnamed) governments.

Now I read that the school is forcing the Burton Third Bombers to pay for a spurious bomb scare all bit the most obtuse Homer Simpson caricature would have dismissed instantly.

Any chance that I would ever donate to M.I.T. again is now gone. I would, however, like to help the Bombers (who were so very good to me) in their financial plight. I call on my fellow alumni to do the same: divert your contributions directly to student associations you support. Don’t let them use your money to destroy what makes our school unique.

If you let this stand, don’t blame me when the next car atop Lobby 10 results in terrorism prosecutions.

Concerned Parent Suggests Other Options

As a parent of a sophomore gymnast, I’ve also been disappointed with MIT’s process of reducing DAPER’s budget. Maybe some sports needed to be cut, but the lack of inclusion, and the lack of creativity goes against MIT’s reputation as the incubator of future discoveries and discoverers. The cuts have been made. Why not now harness the collective brainpower of the larger MIT community, and consider these questions:

Why not extend the life of the cut sports another year? By stating that a sport will be discontinued in one year, MIT can:

Tell current applicants of the long range intention to cut a sport so they have full information into their admission acceptance decision.

Honor the implicit “psychological contract” with current students who chose MIT believing their sport would be available for the full 4 years.

Give current athletes the ability to transfer elsewhere to continue their athletic commitment. Now cut-athletes have no options other than compete at a club level (which isn’t available to all cut sports) or sit out a year while they apply elsewhere for Fall 2010.

2) Why not implement “user fees” as temporary funding? Adding user fees could serve as temporary “bridge funding” giving DAPER time to phase out the sports, identify other fund raising ideas, and further pursue cost cutting measures. A user fee of only $400 per student per sport would have generated $320,000 towards the $480K required.

3) Why not allow teams to self-fund according to their own plan? Currently DAPER is requiring a full endowment as the only way a cut sport can be reinstated. Why? Why not permit teams to generate a wide array of revenue sources? Granted that will take some time. But why meet immediate cost-cut targets at the expense of long term revenue?

4) Why not challenge old practices in this new reality? It may take a decade for college endowments to recover. Schools may need to move beyond the conventional 100% funding model for varsity sports:

Athletes may have to pay-to-play fees

Or athletes and colleges share costs; for example, MIT pays for staff, equipment and facility and athletes pay their travel costs.

5) Why not position MIT as the game changer by creating a new sports funding paradigm for the future? Let’s apply the same out-of-the-box thinking MIT is famous for to its own administrative decision making. Why not enable MIT’s students to learn from their administrators as well as their faculty?

Tech Trades Crown Jewels

It appears that MIT varsity sports have just had their Tiananmen Square. Sensing increasing popular discontent, the Red (and gray) Brigade of MIT preempted its own schedule for announcing that 8 varsity sports will be cut. Rather than waiting until the planned date of 30 April, coaches of the offending sports were peremptorily summoned Wednesday afternoon the 22nd to an early morning meeting Thursday where they were handed their execution orders. No questions, no appeals, no student input. Maybe this is the new Institute way, but out here we call it railroading.

The broad diversity of sports opportunities at MIT should be viewed as a strength and a source of pride. Is it a weakness that MIT has 23 different courses? In the name of budget efficiency, will a few less-popular majors such as Mathematics be given the axe? Can a savings of 0.05% of the MIT budget possibly make a difference? Is the Institute’s bottom line more important than the welfare of the students?

When reunion time approaches, I always look to see who is coming from my fraternity and from my sports teams. These were the people I knew and that I want to see. Now that MIT has monkeyed with both of these, what is it that will bring back future alumni?

In my view, MIT has given away the crown jewels for a few pieces of silver. It will be quite a while before they get any more of mine.