Tragedy struck Boston, Cambridge, and MIT this year with the bombing at the 117th Boston Marathon on Monday Apr. 15 and the shooting death of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier that Friday. The events that unfolded halted Boston’s daily operations and thrust the city and Institute into the national spotlight.
Internet activist Aaron H. Swartz committed suicide on Jan. 11, 2013, igniting a firestorm of discussion over the Internet — where he was regarded as something of a folk hero — and triggering questions regarding the prosecution, MIT, and JSTOR’s involvement in United States v. Aaron Swartz.
In addition to recommendations to demolish Bexley and the several capital projects ongoing in Kendall and Central Square, MIT started several renovation projects of its own over the past year — including renovations on Building 2 and E52, the demolition of Building 12, and the opening of the new Koch Childcare Center adjacent to Simmons.
In Fall 2013, alterations and additions to the General Institute Requirement (GIR) classes offered students more options and new mediums for learning. The Department of Biology introduced two new Introductory Biology classes, 7.015 and 7.016, as well as incorporated online learning from edX into 7.012. Additionally, 3.091 (Solid State Chemistry) piloted an entirely new course format that strongly integrated the use of online learning materials into the structure of the course.
At a meeting on May 7, 2013, residents of the former undergraduate dormitory Bexley Hall learned that the final weeks of the spring semester would be their last in the dorm, which was planned to remain closed for up to three years in order to resolve structural issues. On Apr. 29, the administration received the engineering report that recommended the building’s closure. Residents of the building were instructed to move out by June 8.
In late October, the Boston Licensing Board (BLB) put assembly limits in place for MIT’s Boston-based fraternities, sororities, and living groups (FSILGs), effectively restricting social gatherings by setting the assembly limit equal to the residency limit. These limits have continued into IAP. There are hopes for Boston to approve the licenses by the beginning of the Spring semester. The restriction continues to impact all FSILGs on the Boston side, including 19 of MIT’s 27 fraternities, 3 of the 6 sororities, and 2 of the 6 independent living groups.
MIT entered 2013 expecting to face federal funding cuts for research due to the sequester, and high-level MIT officials searched for ways to keep our research thriving, saying we could handle the cuts better than other affected institutions. The difficulties we could not have anticipated, however, shook our community at many levels as we navigated through an especially turbulent 2013.
MIT’s senior leadership saw sweeping changes in 2013. Dennis Freeman PhD ’86 became the new dean of undergraduate education (DUE), Chris A. Kaiser PhD ’87 stepped down as provost, and Eric Grimson PhD ’80 announced his plans to leave Chancellorship in order to head a capital fundraising campaign. In total, nine of the twenty-six total positions in the senior administration changed or will change.
As scientists and engineers, MIT students constantly balance harsh realism with eternal optimism. On the one hand, we must be machines — poring over facts, figures, and data, determining what is infeasible, and eliminating it. On the other, we must maintain unwavering faith in the possibilities of discovery and the limitless potential of imagination. While we’re here, one of the most important lessons we learn is how to grapple with this duality — how to keep the faith despite setbacks. We learn to be resilient.
With their characteristic defiance and refusal to be defined by anyone but themselves, English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys showcases their willingness to take risks and experiment — and it pays off. Their haunting and gritty fifth album features more manipulation and new instruments than their previous albums, and blends together a compelling combination of musical styles, from punk, funk, and rock to R&B, soul, and hip hop. The terse, poetic, and fervent lyrics by lead vocalist Alex Turner relate of late nights filled with frustration, desire, and loneliness. Add these in and it makes a listen you’ll want to repeat.
2013 has been an exciting year for arts both on and off campus. As always, there have been plenty of performances and exhibitions at MIT, running the gamut of creative endeavours from Senegalese drumming, to experimental theater, to ballroom dancing. In addition, for the first time, there has been a push to promote entrepreneurship in the arts at MIT, with a new category in the 100K competition for art/design-related ventures and a hackathon event.
Based on Solomon Northrup’s autobiography of the same name, 12 Years a Slave follows Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofer) as he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. While Northrup is eventually freed, the plight of fellow slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) shows the terrifying, incessant horror inflicted by slavery.
“MIT has arts?” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that question! But it’s only from people who don’t go to MIT. MIT has a vibrant arts community, especially in dance, theatre, and music. This year was no exception. Every week in 2013, there were at least half a dozen arts events on campus, from student performances to an arts-focused hackathon.
The 2013 Super Bowl between the Ravens and the 49ers began with Baltimore taking early control of the game. Momentum changed completely, however, when an electrical failure caused the stadium to lose power, and allowed the 49ers to mount a furious comeback. San Francisco fell just short on the final drive of the game as Colin Kaepernick attempted a pass to Michael Crabtree in the endzone that fell incomplete. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was the MVP.
After making it to the NEWMAC finals and barely falling to Wheaton College, the MIT Men’s Soccer Team earned a spot in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the second year in a row. Although the Engineers fell to Western New England University in the first round, they ended their spectacular season with a 13-5-2 record.