MIT’s tokamak, Alcator C-Mod, has faced the threat of losing all of its federal funding throughout 2012. The experimental fusion reactor, which relied on $24 million from the Department of Energy for operation in 2012, was unexpectedly slated to lose all federal support in March in the President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2013. The loss of these funds, nearly the entire budget of C-Mod, would force the closure of the experiment, one of just three such devices in the U.S.
For freshmen, the MIT experience begins as soon as they are admitted. A record-low 8.9 percent of applicants were admitted to the Class of 2016, and 70 percent of those admitted accepted their offer of admission. Because of the record high yield rate, no one was admitted from the waitlist for the first time in seven years.
This year saw the implementation of Residential Life Area Directors (RLADs) into most west campus dormitories. The RLADs — an extension of the previous Residential Life Associates (RLA) position — are meant to provide support for students, housemasters, and Graduate Resident Tutors (GRTs). They joined the communities of Maseeh, McCormick, MacGregor, Burton-Connor, New House, Next House, and Simmons at the start of the Fall term.
It took MIT less than 86 days to pick a new president. If that sounds like a short amount of time to whittle down, interview, and vet a list of dozens of candidates, consider that the MIT Corporation’s final pick was somebody who the Institute already knew quite well. Somebody, in fact, who was already as close to the presidency as he could possibly get.
Twenty years ago, MIT’s campus looked vastly different. Maseeh Hall was a graduate dorm called Ashdown House, planning for Simmons Hall had yet to begin, Kendall Square was a quiet area recently abandoned by manufacturing companies, and the Edgerton Center had just opened.
In 2012, the MIT community was saddened by the deaths of three members: Brian G. Anderson ’13, Heng “Nikita” Guo G, and Allison Tovo-Dwyer G. Guo’s death was ruled a suicide, Anderson’s was due to an opiate overdose, and Tovo-Dwyer passed away after a year-long battle with cancer.
Many people hold a naïve conception of affirmative action and don’t understand what it actually involves, yet they deem it a dangerous program that threatens our Institute. We believe that affirmative action is actually incredibly fair and integral to the success of any merit-based institution in the world we live in.
While the series of student suicides at MIT and other colleges in the Boston area is not the focus of this piece, it has inspired my reflection on how to cope in difficult times at the Institute. These events have prompted me to stretch my search for solutions to perhaps controversial lengths. In any case, I wish to express my condolences to these students’ families and loved ones.
Florence Gallez calls on victims of mental illness to try something we already know doesn’t work, and is often dangerous to the individual: to tough it out, build up resilience, and get better on their own. Not only does this view run counter to virtually all research we have at our disposal today, but it is akin to asking victims with cancer to just try really hard to overcome it by themselves without seeking medical attention. Your body is just as incapable of getting rid of an illness like cancer as your mind is incapable of getting rid of an illness like depression. In fact, your body may even stand a better chance, as there’s no “immune system of the mind.” Gallez claims that we have everything we need inside of us, and by focusing on our needs and shutting out the noise of the world, we’ll get better. Gallez is wrong. Let’s take a look at what science has established with respect to mental illness.
Over the past year, the Institute has been releasing “MIT 2030,” its framework for land use and renovation for the next 20 years, and it contains some interesting and ambitious ideas for commercial development on and around the MIT campus. However, behind flowery language of an “innovation district” lie major problems with MIT 2030. In effect, the plan neglects the central mission of the Institute: to “advance knowledge and educate students.”
This past December MIT announced the launch of “MITx,” a new online learning initiative that will offer a large selection of MIT courses online and will allow those that demonstrate mastery of course material to earn a certificate of completion. The announcement has received much praise from both faculty and students as a mark of progress and a major step towards global education — but has the MIT community really considered the full impact of MITx?
2012 was marked by tumult and struggle. Thousands of Syrians were killed as an oppressive dictator clung to power. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was re-ignited. Europeans took to the streets to protest austerity measures. The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy was bracketed by the shootings of innocents in Aurora and Newtown.
The first in the eighth generation of home consoles, the Wii U made it to shelves just in time for the 2012 holiday season. Nintendo’s latest console is its first to have HD output, but there’s a slow loading time for nearly everything. The system itself is sleek, and the newest addition, the gamepad, offers a new twist on console gaming. It allows one person a different view of the TV in what Nintendo is branding as “asymmetric gameplay.” While the gamepad’s touchscreen display is crisp, the controller is uncomfortable to hold for more than a couple hours and its charge depletes quickly. Despite these setbacks, the Wii U seems promising. Only time will tell if the Wii U can find its niche with hardcore gamers, and if the system can compete with the next generation of Playstation and xbox. —JJP
Amour: A poignant portrayal of Georges and Anne, an old couple living quietly in Paris. After Anne has a stroke, Georges cares for her until the bittersweet end. The film is rich in detail, and the acting is compelling. Emmanuelle Riva is unforgettable as Anne, and we empathize completely with Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges. Anne’s relentless deterioration in health and Georges’ decisions to cope with it are sensitively and heartachingly depicted. The film says “there may be no dignity in death, but there can be love”. —Angie
2012 had quite a number of exciting arts events on campus. The List Visual Arts Center presented In the Holocene, an exhibit that explored mathematical and scientific concepts from an artistic point of view. MIT students produced a parody of the Gangnam Style video that was featured on YouTube’s front page. Students wrote, orchestrated, and acted in an original new musical Hack, Punt, Tool. Both DanceTroupe’s winter performance 50 Shades of Plie and Dramashop’s plays packed little Kresge many times. 2013 looks bright with arts coming from the List and students alike.
Neither the economy nor the impending flu epidemic cast their gloomy shadows over the 2012 arts scene, especially in the Boston area. MIT established the Center for Art, Science & Technology and awarded the Eugene McDermott Award to multidisciplinary artist Robert Lepage, who is now an MIT artist in residence and will use the $80,000 prize to further his work in nearly every form of theater craft.
In 2012, Campus Life saw foreign students documenting their experiences in the uniquely bizarre world of MIT, insightful stories by graduate students showing us that contrary to what we’ve all learned from PhD Comics, graduate school may not actually be an endless cycle of despair, and some generally great advice from your fellow students.
One fish, two fish, fake fish Computer models of marine communications tease out ecosystem management trade-offs
I like to joke that I study imaginary fish. People often remember that or, even better, ask what it means. Then, I get to tell them that I study theoretical ecology; I use mathematical tools to investigate how organisms interact with each other and with their environment. I am studying in the MIT Joint Program with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, so my organisms of interest tend to be marine, but the only places they swim are in my computer, in equations, and, always, in my heart.
The increasingly globalized workforce means that large multinational companies recruit graduates from all over the world. Given that various countries have their own university systems, there will certainly be differences in how students are prepared to meet the challenges of employment. I’m in the fortunate position of having studied in two countries — my first two years of college were spent at Cambridge in the U.K., and I am now at MIT through the Cambridge-MIT Exchange for junior year. My firsthand experience of how both universities teach has shown surprising contrasts.