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A frozen pipe on the night of Saturday, Jan. 4 forced several students out of MIT fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha. According to firefighters, the basement was flooded with almost ten feet of water.
Boston Fire Twitter Photo

New IS&T VP John Charles

On Jan. 1, John Charles became the new vice president for information systems and technology (IS&T). He succeeds Marilyn T. Smith, who stepped down February last year. “It’s an extraordinary honor and opportunity for me to serve MIT and its talented IS&T organization in this leadership capacity,” he told the MIT News Office.

As the new vice president of IS&T, Charles is responsible for the development of information technology policy, and overseeing long-range systems planning and projects.

Before coming to MIT, he was chief operating officer for the Corporation for Education Initiatives in California (CENIC). Prior to his work at CENIC, Charles served as an information officer at the California State University, East Bay, for fifteen years.

“John sketched a principled and pragmatic IT approach to supporting MIT’s core mission of teaching and research,” said Frans Kaashoek, a co-chair of the search committee charged with finding the new vice president. “We are looking forward to working with him.”

Lambda Chi Alpha flooded

Last Saturday, a water leak in the basement of MIT fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha, located on 99 Bay State Road, caused eight to ten feet of flooding, requiring the intervention of Boston firefighters.

According to Fox News, at least ten students evacuated the building. Fire officials did not give a reason for the leak.

The Boston Herald reported that the Boston Fire Department responded to 75 water leaks between Jan. 2 and 4, with frigid temperature blamed for the bursting pipes.

Reif warns about innovation deficit

On Dec. 29, 2013, in an article in the Boston Globe, President L. Rafael Reif warned about a potential innovation deficit due to decreased federal funding towards research in the coming years.

Reif argues that federal funding has been responsible for many modern breakthroughs in technology since World War II that have improved human life and contributed to economic growth.

He highlights three MIT projects that would not have been possible without basic research funded by the government: edX, healthcare research, and 3-D printing. The initial support from the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, and National Science Foundation helped develop many necessary of the inputs for these projects, such as the Internet for edX.

Without continuing strong federal support of research, Reif believes, the “public-private partnership that has made the U.S. research enterprise the envy of the world” could be in jeopardy.

MIT website hacked on Swartz’s death anniversary

An MIT website,, was hacked this past Saturday by the hacktivist group, Anonymous, on the anniversary of Aaron Swartz’s suicide. The website displayed a message titled “the day we fight back” and now is unavailable. According to U.S. News and World Report, the hack called for a mass Internet protest scheduled for Feb. 11, sponsored by Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier, Mozilla, and Reddit, among other organizations. Soon after Swartz’s death last year, Anonymous also claimed responsibility of hacking a number of MIT websites calling the case a “grotesque miscarriage of justice.” In response to the tragedy and associated questions last year, President L. Rafael Reif commissioned Professor Hal Abelson PhD ’73 to investigate the incident which later found that MIT maintained neutrality throughout the trial.

—Anthony Yu and Tushar Kamath