Opinion letter to the editor

Pilot 2021 will be a fatal experiment

The freshman-focused program “will cause a dramatic increase in undergraduate suicides”

The MIT Administration has announced its inauguration of an experiment on human subjects called "Pilot 2021." They have not yet published the hypothesis they are attempting to test with this experiment. I offer my own hypothesis in the sincere hope that it will be disproved: "Pilot 2021 will cause a dramatic increase in undergraduate suicides."

Sadly, the outcome of this experiment is easily foreseeable as the inevitable result of the experiment's elimination of a critically needed supportive environment for the diverse collection of undergraduates who are at increased risk of suicide due to stress caused by economic pressure, minority ethnicity, hypersensitivity, inadequate social skills, inadequate coping skills, bipolar disorder, ADHD, other mental disorders, family turmoil, unconventional sexuality, extreme creativity, etc.

Until now, a great many of these students, the ones who were arguably most at risk, found the support and encouragement they needed to survive and succeed at MIT within the amazing Senior House community. With Pilot 2021's elimination of this community, most of these students will be relegated to suffer, without effective support, in miserable isolation in other dormitories. Accordingly, a significant increase in suicides will be the inevitable result of the Pilot 2021 experiment unless the Administration alters its admissions policies in order to detect and exclude students with heightened risk.

Hopefully, Administration, at a minimum, will seek the informed consent of incoming students by explicitly disclosing the elimination of the unique Senior House community which has proven its value in serving the special needs of at risk students. Failure to do so would be a serious breach of the ethics of human experimentation.

Richard Kramer  75