In 2007, MIT garnered attention in an unexpected light — through allegations of racism in its tenure process. An African American associate professor in the Biological Engineering Department charged that racism influenced his tenure denial, prompting his hunger strike, the resignation of an executive director, the withdrawal of an alumnus, and the initiation of an Institute-wide study on underrepresented minority issues.
The One Laptop Per Child foundation had a momentous year in 2007 as it prepared for beginning production of its long-awaited XO laptop in November. The nonprofit also faced new challenges from for-profit competition: OLPC formed an uneasy relationship with Intel, who announced a competing low-price laptop. In early January 2008, however, the relationship dissolved.
When MIT made national and local headlines in 2007, it was largely because of one of many controversies, scandals, and bizarre incidents that may have put a dent in MIT’s reputation. The year saw clashes with the administration and lawsuits, a professor on a hunger strike alleging racism had affected his tenure denial, an admissions dean resigning because she had lied on her resume many years ago, a sodium explosion in the Charles River with MIT widely considered the cause, a sophomore arrested for wearing a harmless LED device to Logan Airport, and a lawsuit filed against the Stata Center’s architect.
As spring semester begins and we return to the daily grind of life at MIT, take this opportunity to look back on the previous year. The Tech provides this special <i>Year in Review</i> issue to highlight some of the major news events of 2007 and share a selection of campus viewpoints. In these pages, you can also rediscover the best of the year’s movies and music and learn more about our community’s excellent student-athletes.
<i>The Tech’s</i><b><i> </i></b>opinion section received numerous letters and columns about James L. Sherley’s hunger strike and the larger issues it raised. Presented here are a few excerpts.
Feb. 6: At the Cambridge Planning Board’s annual town gown meeting, MIT reveals plans to construct the long-awaited Media Lab expansion; a Sloan School of Management expansion; a new cancer research facility at the corner of Main St. and Ames St.; and a new graduate dormitory, NW35, to be called Ashdown House.
Both fraternities and sororities saw increases in their bids this year, following some changes in rush.
Education at MIT in 2007 saw a number of changes: two undergraduate courses revamped their curricula; opportunities for freshmen expanded with the addition of project-based engineering and foundational Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences classes; and two degree programs neared acceptance by MIT.
The Recording Industry Association of America tried a new legal tactic in the past year: the association sent 63 letters to MIT in 2007 and 19 more in January 2008, asking for money and threatening to file copyright infringement lawsuits against MIT community members.
In the MIT administration’s eyes, eating together builds community, and dormitory dining halls and mandatory meal plans are the best way to get at the kind of community the Institute wants. This analysis explains why when Ashdown House is renovated into the W1 undergraduate dormitory, its kitchens will be replaced with a dining hall.
MIT saw the effects of major changes in the admissions and financial aid policies at some of the Institute’s competing universities this year.
After students were found exploring the MIT Faculty Club by the Campus Police late on a Saturday night and found themselves facing felony charges, MIT found itself struggling to define exactly how it valued the hacking community. The result of MIT’s soul-searching, a statement and a set of guidelines to be included in the student handbook, was drafted throughout 2007 with input from students.
Tuition rose by 4.1 percent last year, even as donations and the endowment increased to record numbers.
Incorporating perspectives built upon institutional memory and the paper’s untouched archives, <i>The Tech’s </i>editorial board weighed in on several matters of importance to the MIT community this past year. Below find editorials on what we consider to be some of the year’s most important topics.
Over the past seven years, the MIT Corporation has been actively concealing evidence of scientific fraud at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, relating to the effectiveness of a national missile defense system. During that time, the U.S. has mis-spent nearly $70 billion of national treasure on a flawed system, and MIT’s name has been used to lull the nation’s decision makers into believing that the defense might work. My aim in writing this article is to provide the MIT community with facts so powerful that anyone who reads them will understand that the actions of the MIT Corporation in this case have ignored the nation’s best interests.
The constant barrage of news about climate change, energy shortages, environmental degradation, disease, and war demonstrates the challenges and dangers of an increasingly interconnected world. However, in the face of these grim realities and predictions, it is reassuring to witness the real-world, international successes of MIT students. By working with communities around the world, MIT students create positive outcomes that have transformative effects. The more MIT students participate in international public service, the better chance we have of creating a world where interconnection is an asset and headlines can be positive.
I’ve often referred to MIT as a “nerd reservation,” or a place for the world’s extremely bizarre people to live and work together by their own system of rules and social norms.<i> </i>This beautiful society they created — one based on respect for logic and invention<i> </i>— is not coincidentally a mine of greatness. While churning out Nobel Laureates and top ranks, MIT garnered the reputation of being fun for those that appreciate spelunking, Smoots, and steer.
2007 represented a year of quiet victories for student-led initiatives. Two examples merit particular attention — the first for confirming that partnership between students and administrators is possible, the second for demonstrating that sustained student pressure can change even the most entrenched of Institute policies.
During the last few months, as I served as the chair of the MIT faculty, I have been surprised by a phenomenon which I can only describe as a paradox. While all the indicators of MIT’s institutional performance look quite positive and convey clearly that MIT remains a leading research university in the world, the faculty — not all, but a sizeable number — seem to feel that the Institute is not moving in the right direction, that its institutional norms and practices are changing, moving away from MIT’s traditional culture of decentralized innovations towards a relatively centralized and somewhat corporate model of governance. This odd juxtaposition of success and alarm has been intriguing for me.
MIT is going through an identity crisis. Administrators frequently use Ivy League universities as a yardstick by which MIT’s student life is evaluated. MIT fundamentally differs from these other elite institutions in our dominance of science and engineering as well as our values of self-determination and independence in student life.
2007 has been the year of the great copyright crackdown. While copyright has been part of the law for hundreds of years, protecting intellectual property so that those who create it are justly compensated is now even more important in an information economy, even as the prevalence of digital media makes it easier to violate copyright laws.
How does one define 2007 in terms of the music it produced? Surely the selections should reflect the events of the year: in this case, record low temperatures, iPhones for everyone, and an over-abundance of celebrity crotch-baring. At the same time, records making the annual list should be timeless; they should be representative not only of yearly trends, but also be able to withstand a 10-year flashback without much embarrassment on the reviewer’s behalf.
Every year, there are certain movies that stand out from the rest. Some shine as cinematic masterpieces full of magnificent acting and direction. Others push the boundaries of technology and reinvent how movies are made. Still others stand out for telling captivating stories. Whatever the reason, below are our picks for the most significant movies of 2007.
Ask anybody on the MIT women’s tennis team about their fall 2007 season, and if they don’t brag to you about national rankings and academic honors, you can smile because you know they are being modest.
The 2007 spring season was arguably the strongest ever for the women’s track and field program, as the team went undefeated during the indoor season and placed fifth at the New England Division III Indoor Track and Field Championship, a huge jump from the previous year’s 13th. Much of this improvement came because of a strong freshman class, including Maria J. Monks ’10, who shattered the Institute record in the 5K run with a time of 17:21.62.
The MIT pistol team captured their second national championship in three years by beating the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine Academies, and other military and civilian schools in a three-day competition held in March 2007 at West Point.
The MIT sailing team saw great results during the 2007 fall season, including overall wins at the Smith Trophy and the Erwin Schell Trophy (for the first time in 27 years). The coed team also had top finishes at the Captain Hurst Bowl in New Hampshire and the Crews Regatta at MIT. To finish out the fall season, the team placed 11th at the Atlantic Coast Championship at Eckerd College in Florida.
In the 2007 fall season, the women’s cross country team won the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Championship, scoring 50 points to runner-up Wheaton College (72). Kathryn A. Gordon ’11 received NEWMAC Rookie of the Year honors as Maria J. Monks ’10 led the way with a fourth place finish. Close behind were teammates Elizabeth M. Finn ’09 (5th), Jennifer A. Doyle ’09 (12th), Gordon (14th), and Adrienne M. Bolger ’09 (15th). The win marked the third time that both the men’s and women’s cross country teams took the NEWMAC title in the same year.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is widely accepted as a scholastic superpower, producing some of the world’s greatest mathematicians and scientists. Unsurprisingly, its athletic program — though distinguished in its own right — has consistently been an afterthought in a discussion of MIT’s virtues.
For the average sports fan, 2007 was filled with moments that many of us will easily forget. In five years, it’ll be difficult to pick out which team won the NBA Championship (“Hmm, it’s an odd year … I’ll guess the Spurs”) or which team won the Stanley Cup (wait, a team from California?). What will stick out in our minds are moments that we knew right away were special. Ones where teams and athletes rose above and beyond expectations, ones whose effects will be felt for years to come.
The varsity men’s volleyball 2007 season turned out to be the best campaign in program history. The team finished with a 27-6 overall record and a No. 11 ranking in the Division III American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Coaches Poll. The team also went undefeated in the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association’s New England Division, winning the division title for the first time. This earned the team its third straight trip to the post season, making its way through to the quarterfinals of the NECVA Championship tournament.
The men’s cross country team began the fall season with victories over the Tech alumni and at the Smith College Invitational. The team had no problem winning their 10th consecutive New England Men’s and Women’s Athletics Conference Championship with a near perfect score of 18 points. Jacob J. Ruzevick ’09 was the team’s top runner, earning NEWMAC Runner of the Year honors while Gihan S. Amarasiriwardena ’11 took the NEWMAC Rookie of the Year award.
The MIT men’s track and field team went undefeated in the winter 2007 indoor season, securing wins over Division III powers such as Williams College and Tufts University. The season was highlighted by great team results, along with impressive individual performances by the much-improved sophomore class and dominating freshman class, culminating in a third place finish in the New England Division III Championship.
To most of the world looking in, MIT is about its research. To most of its students, MIT is about the education. But for a select few, nothing gets them as excited as the athletics. The hard work and dedication of many talented student-athletes have created a strong presence for MIT in the collegiate athletic community, and their performance has helped shape a legacy that will persist beyond their graduation. These are a few of their stories.
Even before arriving on campus for Orientation, I knew that MIT was literally steeped in tradition. Whether I was listening to upperclassmen tell stories during Campus Preview Weekend, perusing blog entries on the Admissions Web site, or simply reading about MIT in the panoply of books and magazines that happened to mention the ’Tute, every reference to our little corner of Cambridge was decidedly positive.