Opinion editorial

Responding to tragedy

In the wake of four deaths, a little bit can go a long way

The passing of Brian G. Anderson ’13 this past week marks the fourth death on campus in six months. This news is shocking to us all, and The Tech wanted to take this opportunity to address student morale on campus. As students ourselves, we know that on top of p-sets, exams, and general MIT stress, these events can be overwhelming.

In his letter to students earlier this week, Chancellor Eric Grimson PhD ’80 emphasized the importance of reaching out to friends and peers around MIT. The Tech echoes this sentiment — not only to connect with a particular individual, but also to improve the well-being of the student body.

“Reaching out” to others does not necessarily involve referring someone to medical or taking a trip to S3. Simple actions make a difference. Take the time to brighten someone’s day — a small gesture can go a long way. It can be something as small as waving and smiling at a classmate in the Infinite, or sitting with someone who looks lonely at lunch and introducing yourself. Make an effort to speak to a friend you haven’t seen in a while; a brief phone call, text message, or even a Facebook wall post can cheer someone up. Hold the door for someone behind you. Smile. Say thank you. Give a stranger a compliment. These are suggestions we think any MIT student can fit into their schedule and still have a positive impact. Engaging with those around you makes MIT a stronger community and brings people together.

MIT is not just an institution that hands you a fancy piece of paper after you complete enough p-sets or papers. Besides being a school and research facility, it is home to several thousand students for four or more years. Campus morale matters — try to do your part to keep it aloft.

Of course, more serious issues will require more than just a kind gesture. Though the administration and student body often feel like detached entities, MIT is here to support you. The Institute has greatly expanded its mental health and student resources over the past several years in an attempt to benefit more students.

You shouldn’t be afraid to seek out help if you or someone else needs it. GRTs, housemasters, professors, deans, administrators, S3, and Medical are all there for you — so are your family and friends. Talk to someone in your student group or on your floor. Go to your advisor or mentor. Don’t be afraid to tell someone how you are feeling. If the first person doesn’t understand, find another. Most importantly, if someone talks to you — listen.

Take responsibility for the people around you and your community. It is up to you to keep MIT strong. Don’t let it down.

1 Comment
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James K Herms MtE \'87 over 6 years ago

(More about resources available for the protection of students' well-being)

- Is someone in the community threatening to cause you physical, psychological or financial harm? An MIT detective would be pleased to take your report -- even if the individual in question has authority over you. You will be taken seriously and you will be protected from retaliation. cp-invest[at]mit (8am-3pm)

- You may also have certain rights under tort law -- but only a lawyer is qualified to tell you. If you reasonably believe that your "safety or welfare" is at risk, the expense of a preliminary consultation will be covered by a disbursement from MIT general-support fund 2721276. (You won't be the first student to take advantage of this unique initiative!)