Over the past few years, the MBTA has made great strides in reducing costs and improving service, making Boston’s system the envy of other Northeast cities. However, Forward Funding legislation, which requires the MBTA to borrow against future revenue to pay for capital projects, is dedicating increasing fractions of the annual operating budget to interest payments. This benefits no one except capital markets that are collecting interest on the debt. No amount of fare increases or service cuts can solve the MBTA’s deficit alone.
A key question brought up at the recent MIT Diversity Summit, and the MLK Jr. annual breakfast, was how can MIT balance excellence with diversity? It has been commonly noted that students and faculty alike perceive tension within the Institute between the frequent appeals for increased diversity, and the culture of hard work and meritocracy that make MIT what it is. This question received heavy emphasis in the 2010 Report on the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity. One of the final statements of that report was that, “While almost everyone at MIT would like the Institute to be an institution of merit and inclusion, it will be difficult to reach this ideal if race and ethnicity are ignored and presumed irrelevant.”
In responding to Brandon Briscoe’s , I won’t recount my successes as a minority at MIT, or those of my mother and father, a former employee and a graduate student, respectively. Not that my perspective lacks worth, but other students and faculty members can disprove Briscoe’s insinuations many times over. However, I must address Briscoe faulty evidence of reverse discrimination directly.
In the Feb. 17, 2012 issue of The Tech, Brandon Briscoe argues that MIT is “heading in the wrong direction with affirmative action”, and suggests that MIT uses quotas or preferences in its admissions and hiring practices. While we respect Brandon’s right to express his opinion and his courage in doing so, we fundamentally disagree with his premises and statements.
As a Mexican-American alumna of MIT, I feel comforted by that “don’t get me wrong, every student and faculty member I have ever met at MIT …deserve[s] to be here.” I’m relieved that the Institute policies which “erode the meritocracy at MIT” somehow allowed me and other appropriately qualified minorities into the school.
It seems all we do at MIT is talk about the future. How are med school apps going? Are you going to take your job offer? Are you ready for that test tomorrow? In a way, it’s justified; we’ve spent our whole lives working as hard as we can in hopes of mastering our futures — in hopes of controlling our destinies.
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.”
MIT is the finest research institution in the world, in no small part because of its unwavering commitment to recruiting, admitting, and hiring the best talent in the world, even if that talent comes from less-advantaged or atypical backgrounds. Periodically examining the mechanisms by which the Institute pursues its mission is essential, but those examinations must be grounded in both data and an understanding of the MIT ethos. Brandon Briscoe’s execrable and intellectually dishonest rant against diversity and inclusion at the Institute is neither, serving as a disheartening call to take MIT in precisely the wrong direction. By mischaracterizing MIT’s admission and hiring processes as a de facto quota system, Briscoe effects a brilliant takedown of a straw man of his own creation and manages to cast aspersions on the intellect of every MIT-affiliated woman and underrepresented minority, … all based on little more than a few sloppy citations and the courage of his own biased convictions.
In response to the recent discussions taking place in these pages, where a lot has been said about the admissions process, I want to take this opportunity to add to the conversation with a few comments.
I am no longer an undergraduate at MIT, but my mother still receives notices from the parents’ association now and again. Last week, she received an email from Christina Aprea informing the MIT parents community that a junior was found dead in his dormitory room. The cause of death has not been officially released yet.
The MIT fusion experiment Alcator C-Mod has been slated for cancellation in the presidential budget request for fiscal year 2013, a cut of nearly $18 million to the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) to be enacted in September 2012. The shuttering of this single largest experiment at MIT will be devastating to the research of many of our professional scientists, upwards of 30 graduate students and dozens of undergraduate students at MIT. Luckily, this budget must still be passed by Congress to go into effect, and we need your help now to reverse this decision.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that MIT is a difficult place. The challenges students face, whether academic or social, are difficult to handle even amidst the best mental health states. We enter the Institute as the top students from our hometowns with ambitions of maintaining this status by being the best in our classes and extracurricular activities. We have not failed until we get to MIT.
(As a preface to this letter, I make no assumptions about accidental or intentional nature of the sad passing of Brian G. Anderson ’13, and stand with the MIT community in sending our thoughts and wishes to his family and friends. Yet, I believe his death, as the most recent loss of a student on campus, brings to light a very concerning issue on campus.)
Course 22 senior Derek Sutherland’s article in last Friday’s Tech did a great job of describing why the Alcator C-Mod magnetic fusion experiment, the largest experiment at MIT, deserves to be funded in the fiscal year 2013 federal budget. But it is also imperative to note how magnetic fusion energy research in the United States as a whole is in serious danger at this time, and how the path proposed for fusion in the 2013 budget is harmful to the future of U.S. energy independence and U.S. scientific leadership.
Andy Liang’s opinion piece in the Tuesday edition of The Tech is insulting, disgusting, and wrong on so many counts that it is difficult to know where to start. It is a “shotgun blast” article, aiming to incriminate an “unapologetic media”, downplay (if not delegitimize) the notion that PTSD may have been involved, and altogether is indicative of a very troubling trend amongst American culture today.
Allison Hamilos posted an arti cle about plyometrics on March 20, 2012. Although she gave the right reasons for doing plyometrics, what she considered plyometrics is quite inaccurate and would not improve your goals of explosive strength. What she described can be usable in its own right as a fat-loss and general conditioning workout, but it is not true that it would help you jump higher or run faster (assuming that you are already a decent athlete). Her safety advice is sound, other than the use of “athletic shoes.”
On March 14, 2012, I attended the CIS (Center for International Studies) sponsored book event by Trita Parsi at MIT . I shall refrain from commenting on his book and instead refer those interested to the Jan. 23, 2012 Wall Street Journal article by Sohrab Ahmari titled “It Takes Two to Engage” . However I would write about the question I wanted to ask from Abbas Maleki, the discussant at the event, but I couldn’t.
“Faggot!” I braced myself for the barrage of gum, paper, and pencils that they would throw at me. I quickened my pace to get to class before they could torment me further. I looked around for help but no one stood up for me — no students, no teachers, no staff. Almost immediately after I had come out as gay a few weeks earlier, the bullying had started.
CityDays has been part of orientation for 20 years. Having CityDays as an official activity of orientation conveys to incoming freshmen an ethic of service at MIT. Every year, 40–45 community organizations are served by 600–900 MIT student CityDays participants. The number of upperclassmen volunteer group leaders has doubled in the past two years to almost 200. This large-scale event is one of the highest-profile opportunities for MIT to publicize its commitment to volunteerism in the local community.
We are athletes. We are teammates. We are allies. April 20, also known as the Day of Silence, is the national day to take a stand against homophobic bullying, and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) would like to take a moment to say why it’s important to have allies in athletics.
During World War I, the world witnessed the first genocide of the twentieth century. From 1915 to 1918, 1.5 million Armenians (approximately 50 percent of the Armenian population at that time), along with other minorities living in the Ottoman Empire, were systematically killed by the Ottoman Turks. The Armenian Genocide is commemorated on April 24; it was on this day in 1915 that the Young Turks, the ruling party of the Ottoman Empire, ordered the killing of Armenian intellectuals, leaders, artists, and businessmen living in the Ottoman Empire. Following this day, many Armenian men were massacred and plans for the genocide were implemented.
Though the Institute is famous for its ability to innovate for the greater society, it is also equally well-positioned to solve for problems residing within its own walls. As opposed to bringing in expensive outside consultants or expanding the administrative hierarchy in order to address the dynamic issues/problems facing MIT, we would like to propose a paradigm shift towards looking inwards first to see what types of novel solutions can be generated far before RFPs and Calls for Applicants are ever distributed. As a basis for this hypothesis consider that this month, members of the Committee on Student Life (CSL) received a presentation from the Graduate Student Council’s (GSC) Transportation Working Group (TWG) which did just that: The TWG leveraged MIT skill sets to help it creatively solve shared problems and seize upon new opportunities.
This Wednesday, MIT President Susan Hockfield and Harvard President Drew Faust announced the edX platform for online education. I have been taking the pilot edX course 6.002x this semester, but it wasn’t until I saw these two women speak that I realized just how big this initiative could be. 6.002x is already an incredible technological achievement that accurately replicates an introductory Course VI class on the Internet. After the announcement this Wednesday, this revolutionary online experience of MIT classes made the leap to become a multi-institutional platform that could transform the delivery of education worldwide.
On May 1, MIT Corporation Member Barun Singh ENG ’06 called for MIT students to advocate for themselves. This is difficult with MIT’s current structure of advocacy, which lacks proper forums to share problems and ideas. Students advocate through the student groups they are a part of, and student groups are forced to make advocacy entertainment. Events such as Alpha Chi Omega’s Lipsync for raising domestic violence awareness and the Chorallaries’ Bad Taste, which makes fun of scandalous occurrences on campus, are fun but students do not leave the show with a heightened sense of awareness — they are often focused on the event itself, and not the issue at hand. I would like to explain why advocacy currently happens as it does and make suggestions for how to get students more involved in politics.
Last Tuesday, I wrote to the housemasters with the announcement that I had decided that the role of the Residential Life Associate in the residence halls should be enhanced, so that the residential system could better support undergraduates living on campus. The plan I announced would increase the number of RLAs, so that one could be assigned to almost every dormitory, and would increase the required education and experience, so that students, housemasters, and GRTs would have access to a higher level of expertise.
The periodic voyage of celestial bodies, the cosmic rhythm that was only just observable to the humble Earth-dweller, in many ancient civilizations, represented fate, hope and a way of life itself. The Mayans held the Venus cycle in high regard, its movement representing a challenge to the mighty Sun, auspicious timing for territorial war.
I received my bachelor’s from Wellesley College (‘06), master’s from Boston University (‘08), master’s from Harvard University (‘08), and will be receiving my doctorate from Harvard; but it’s you, MIT, that has made the biggest impact on my life — academically, socially, and personally. And for that, I love you. You have succeeded in making a positive impact not just on your immediate family members, but you have touched the lives of people who are only a mere part of your extended network.
In prepared remarks to the MIT community last year, President Reif declared that one of his most cherished values includes “a commitment to meritocracy.” Indeed meritocracy is one of the values which make MIT great. Recognizing, rewarding, and encouraging the talents of its students and general population help MIT attract the brightest people in the world and keep these people happy and productive during their time here.
The process of implementing Residential Life Area Directors (RLADs or ADs) has been criticized by certain undergraduates, recently culminating in an editorial in The Tech on August 31, 2012. While we are glad to see The Tech encouraging a warm welcome for our ADs, we believe that many claims about the AD process are grossly exaggerated or even inaccurate. While not perfect, the process has been neither unacceptable nor “disturbing.” In fact, it has had considerable student involvement, and we urge students to continue to actively participate in shaping the AD into a successful new support role at MIT.
150 years ago this summer, the U.S. Congress passed a bill introduced by Vermont representative Justin Morrill, which provided for “the endowment, support and maintenance of colleges of agriculture and mechanic arts.” Shortly thereafter, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law, ushering in the development of one of our nation’s greatest achievements — the nation’s land-grant colleges and universities, the precursors to today’s public higher education system. From the great public institutions of the upper Midwest (think the Big 10 and Big 12) to the University of California system, the Morrill Act called on the states to provide colleges where the “industrial classes” (had Mr. Morrill introduced this bill today he would have likely written “middle class”) could pursue a “liberal and practical education” in the agricultural and mechanical arts. The intent is excerpted from the original Morrill Act:
While I agree with the spirit and overall theme of Feras Saad’s article, “The arrogance of freshmen” (i.e. that taking advantage of opportunities at MIT is more important than the fact that you got in here), several sentences had a tone that belied another form of arrogance. The worst was, “ … taking four classes a semester and getting A’s … is not much to brag about, but taking the initiative to research with professors or intern in industry certainly is,” followed closely by, “One can take four classes a semester and cruise through an MIT degree by junior year.”
With the evolution of massive open online course (MOOC) and online learning, in the near future students will no longer need a lecture to learn material. We are already seeing the beginning of this trend; independent learners can teach themselves in an online environment and receive immediate feedback. This represents a major change in model of education. Teachers are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge and students can take charge of their own educations. The democratizing of knowledge will completely reshape the classroom. When students no longer need to come to lecture to learn the material, what role does the classroom have in education? Where is the added value?
As students and researchers, we often fall into the trap of disproportionately offering critique over praise and expressing misgivings over thanks. Regardless of whether this is some unavoidable part of human nature or a result of admissions selecting for overly critical creative thinkers, we must all make an improved effort to recognize instances of selfless philanthropy, compassionate leadership, and keen foresight and offer high praise where it is due. It was with great excitement and optimism that we read The Tech’s article breaking news of the new daycare facility at 219 Vassar to open in less than a year’s time. Though David Koch’s and Charles and Jennifer Johnson’s building will never host a cure to cancer or solution to the energy crisis, it will deliver in two equally critical ways which the Institute desperately needs right now:
Science today has an image problem. Too often it is seen as an esoteric activity of academics, whose results have no influence on the daily lives of the American people. When the news of the neutrinos supposedly going faster of light was reported and the public saw the scientific community scramble to debunk this claim, I cannot help but wonder what an American who does not follow science thought of the coverage.
As November 6 approaches, we once again hear the calls of political activists insisting that it is not only our right but our responsibility to vote in the upcoming election. We Americans take this oft-repeated mantra as a given, as a basic necessity of an effective government. But seeing that even informed voters have an amateur understanding of the issues facing the country, are we really in a position to decide which policies should be enacted on a national scale? Does the electorate understand the issues on which it votes?
Last month, I attended MIT’s presidential inauguration hoping to join the celebration and learn more about President Reif. But most of the time, I found myself left out and merely spectating. I was bombarded by incomprehensible information and I was not able to celebrate as much as I wanted. I am one of MIT’s very few functionally deaf students. Ironically, in an inaugural celebration that touted the Institute’s “diversity,” the facilities for deaf accessibility were mostly hit-and-miss.
Students coming to MIT are in for a mind-boggling exposure to volunteerism and hands on learning. Alumni have an obligation to volunteer, and thankfully, at MIT, many do so with zeal. However, volunteerism hardly stops there. It permeates every academic department, laboratory, research center, studio, and administrative program at the Institute. Furthermore, it fosters student idealism.
If you surf the web, watch television, or are of the rare breed that reads newspapers, you are painfully aware that we recently held a presidential election. And if you have heard any chatter on the candidates and their campaigns, I’m sure you can agree that 2012 was very different from 2008.
On Nov. 30, The Tech decided to publish an ad titled “GENIUS ASIAN EGG DONOR.” The ad sought a donor of the Asian race with an exceptional academic record. The ad reeks of privilege and ignorance, as a couple seeks to manufacture its dream baby by placing all hope on a stereotype. We wrote this letter to highlight the racist and sexist roots of the ad, to protest its placement in The Tech, and to expose the creator’s offensive posting.
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.”
With the implementation of the sequester, a swath of federal budget cuts, MIT must answer some tough questions. What is our most valuable service to the world? Our research? Our undergraduates? Graduate students? What is our primary responsibility, and what do we value?
Lobby 10 is the crossroads of our campus. Student groups use it to advocate for causes, advertise for events, and to practice and perform. Despite its active role in student life and high visibility, many often forget that Lobby 10 serves another purpose — it is a war memorial.
MIT and the city of Cambridge, we like to think, generally have a beneficial effect on one another, and this happens best when we all work together. The Cambridge City Council is currently considering a re-zoning proposal presented by the MIT Investment Management Company that has the potential to transform Kendall Square more than any other project in decades. If done well, with a sensitivity to the various groups that will be affected, both in the neighborhoods and on your campus, this could be a terrific addition to the city and to the Institute.
There has understandably been a great deal of anxiety on campus about how best to relocate the hundred or so displaced Bexley residents who will need to be housed in a different place come fall than everyone had been expecting. We would like to find a solution that is ‘fair,’ but of course there is no obvious fix that is fair to everyone. Relocating a number of students from a place they had settled themselves, into the midst of other people who had also already settled themselves, poses very real challenges.
One of the defining characteristics of art is its ability to affect people in strikingly different ways. Some might find a painting inspirational; others might find it poignant; still others might find it offensive. As the Supreme Court explained in Cohen v. California, “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.” This is particularly true when an artist attempts to push boundaries. A society dedicated to freedom of expression ought to welcome such work and the potential for thoughtful provocation that it offers. But when unorthodox art triggers controversy on the modern college campus, administrators often take dramatic measures to suppress it.
Nothing would excite me more than to see individuals, institutions, businesses, and governments placing more emphasis on ethics. I applaud MIT President Rafael Reif’s recent article in The Tech “Ethics education at the Institute” requesting that we enhance our ethical awareness. However, as beneficial as placing a higher emphasis on ethics might prove, we must also accept that a keener perception of ethics would place a much greater responsibility on the Institute. The consequence of a serious inquiry into ethics will be a heavy burden to bear.
Set phasers to stun — technology like Star Trek’s phasers lies under the radar and behind red tape, but it has the potential to solve a problem that has afflicted America for decades: gun violence. Unfortunately, solutions to gun violence discussed in mainstream politics have only brought limited effectiveness and intense partisan gridlock. Fortunately, other solutions have tremendous potential, and they are politically feasible.
People at MIT, like people anywhere, get together for a variety of reasons: to enjoy each other’s company, to work, to play, to serve the community. The concern that prompts my writing is that Charm School, first organized more than 20 years ago as an enjoyable, playful, service-oriented IAP activity, has, to its detriment, been transformed into an event focusing more than it needs to on job-seeking skills and other manners in the professional world. These include “dining etiquette and table conversation during business dinners” and “effective email in the business world.” Work is only one part of our lives where table manners and email messages are important.
In the Stata Center, the doors to enter the building and then to enter the lab areas are opened by RFID cards (I call them “pox cards”) instead of metal keys. When the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) moved into Stata in 2004, the MIT administration decided, without consulting the personnel of CSAIL, to make the system log which cards are used to open which doors and when.
When I first heard about the All Doors Open event, I was a little uncertain. I knew from my work in Student Support Services (S3) that our community was struggling to come to terms with a string of bad news, most recently the on-campus death of Phoebe Wang. We were given fifteen unstructured minutes, time to use however we chose. What would we make of it? My colleagues and I heard that some found the thought and experience of this undefined time awkward, long and intolerable. Others saw it as exactly what they needed.
Through the tragedies of last several months, we have often been reminded that MIT is a community that cares, that help is always available, and that seeking help is a sign of strength. And it is true that MIT has many excellent resources. However, it is also true that so many continue to see MIT as a place without a safety net.
On Tuesday, Sept. 30, The Tech’s “Snapshot of the First Year Survey results for Class of 2018” revealed a startling paradox that has gone unmentioned: The Class of 2018 most desires to “Contribute to Science and Innovation” and least cares about “Participating in Politics or Community Affairs.” But I ask: how one can expect his/her contributions to science and innovation to ever see the light of day (or the market) without understanding and participating in politics and community affairs? Let me be clear that I raise this not to fault the Class of 2018 (when we are 18 and fresh from high school there is much to learn in life), but to ask the greater MIT community, particularly our faculty, department heads, deans, and administrators: what does it mean to divorce scientific achievements from participation in public life?
Punishing cheating is not easy. Academic misconduct varies in severity, and accusations of it can be wrong. Purposeful leaders resolve these difficulties by trial and error. Over time, they cultivate a sense of fairness and a shame at unfair advantage. Fair ways of meting out punishment follow.
This fall, several articles have acquainted the MIT community with ongoing plans to redesign the library system. One effect of the planned changes will be a decrease in the space for print collections, requiring many books to be sent off-campus. We write for a group of linguists, faculty and students in Course 24, whose research and teaching relies on Hayden Library’s books, and on their immediate, on-the-shelf availability. We want to raise questions about how priorities are set and decisions made in planning the redesign of the libraries; how the community has been kept informed of these developments; and how library officials view the mission of the library in a research university like ours.
With luck, the world will frown on the example set by MIT in taking down Walter Lewin’s physics lectures from OpenCourseWare.
When freshmen walk onto campus in August, they are met with two tracks for Greek life: fraternities and sororities. While some will happen upon the co-ed options, most will follow paths dictated by their gender. This is at a time when even most of our dorm bathrooms, for example, are co-ed.
Last week, Lorraine Goffe-Rush, VP of Human Resources at MIT, announced the Institute’s new policy on parental care. She wrote in an email on Tuesday that MIT is “pleased to announce” that the Institute will provide “up to 5 days of Paid Parental Leave to eligible mothers and fathers,” within 4 months of birth or adoption. Goffe-Rush added, “We are delighted to have this opportunity to further expand MIT’s benefits to new parents in our community.”
The tragedies at MIT in recent months gave a new sense of urgency to the discussion about mental health support for all members of the community. A crucial part of undergraduate student life at MIT is the dorm experience and the unique and diverse residential communities we pride ourselves on encouraging. In 2012, the Division of Student Life (DSL) introduced the Residential Life Area Director (RLAD) position to the existing dorm structures on campus.
This week, the initial phase of the MIT Climate Change Conversation will conclude with the release of a committee report weighing the pros and cons of actions proposed by the MIT community. A focus of that report will be on divestment of the Institute’s endowment from fossil fuels. Without the early, critical efforts of Fossil Free MIT (FFMIT), the energetic, campus-wide discussion of MIT’s options for climate action would never have begun.
Over the past year, there has been discussion about transitioning MIT fraternities and sororities stationed in Boston into a “Greek Village” located on West Campus grounds in Cambridge. This concept of an FSILG Village has moved quickly amongst FSILG officials and MIT administrators but has not gained support within the actual Greek community. According to a survey reported on by The Tech, “Of 80 total alumni and student representatives, only five alumni ‘expressed high interest in the project,’ and only five students thought it was at all likely that their living group would be willing to move into an FSILG village.”
Last month, the MIT Center for International Studies hosted a talk by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Raised a Muslim, she witnessed abuse of women in Muslim communities. She renounced her religion and became an activist for women’s rights. Her criticisms of Islam led to death threats, and her courage was recognized by several awards. Her latest book, Heretic, calls for a fundamental reformation of Islam.
We write from the office doorstep of MIT’s President, where on October 22, we began a sit-in in response to the President’s announcement of MIT’s Plan for Action on Climate Change (hereafter ‘Plan’). As President Reif acknowledged, the Plan originally “emerged in response to” Fossil Free MIT’s ongoing call, since April 2013, for MIT to divest its now $13.5 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies. Here, we share our take on MIT’s Plan and explain why it has left us no choice but to respectfully plant ourselves, around-the-clock, along MIT’s corridor of power to call for a bolder approach.
MIT is home to a large number of international students on F-1 student visas. In the 2014-2015 academic year, 42 percent of the graduate student body was composed of international students. Most of these students apply for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program after graduation in order to work in the U.S. in their field of study. Every international student who completes a post-secondary degree in the U.S. on an F-1 visa is eligible for 12 months of OPT. Since 2008, those who complete a degree in a STEM field have also qualified for a one-time 17-month extension of OPT. This extension, however, was recently challenged in court by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, and this August, the District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the STEM OPT Extension on the grounds of procedural deficiency. The court order is set to take effect in February 2016.
Earlier this week, members of the MIT community found in their inboxes an email from Chancellor Barnhart. Immediately beneath the ominous subject line of “Alcohol abuse, illegal drugs and our community” were the expected exhortations against binge drinking and drug use. This time, however, these words came backed by evidence. To quote the email, “The results of the 2015 Healthy Minds Study and 2014 Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault survey show the direct — and negative — links between substance abuse and student health and safety.” Included helpfully were also hyperlinks to these two studies, as well as one to the MIT “Statement on Drug-free Campus and Workplace Policies,” which contains, among other things, a list of “selected drugs and their effects.” In short, a bevy of material to support a seemingly obvious claim.
The very first class I attended at MIT was 7.012, four and a half years ago in the fall of 2011. I remember how excited my fellow freshmen felt in Maseeh dining that morning, how tightly the Infinite was packed with students finding new classrooms, and how crowded 26-100 was once my friends and I got there. But looking back on that first class, I cannot actually recall much of what the professor said. Or really much from any other 7.012 lecture. Or from 18.02 lectures that fall or 5.111 lectures the following spring. Why is that? I have a fairly good memory, and in four years it shouldn’t seem reasonable for me to forget the material. I suspect that I don’t remember what was taught in these three classes because all of them were rigid lecture-based classes. Although these were core freshman science classes, there was little to no student engagement through hands-on learning.
Over the course of 2010-2011, while I was a graduate student at MIT, I struggled to find help with harassment. I encountered both bureaucratic ineptitude and a culture of denial and silence that made the situation needlessly difficult for me, my advisor, and others in my lab. I am writing because I hope that by sharing my experience and insights into how MIT’s system can fail, I can help those working to improve it. While I understand that there have been some changes on campus since I graduated three years ago, I think MIT still needs to improve the way it handles harassment on campus.
The growth of mobile devices and the apps that fuel them has been followed by a decline in browsers, locking more and more of the Internet into silos controlled by giant corporations that love “disruption” when they're the ones doing it, but not so much when they’re the ones being disrupted. The browser ecosystem is weaker than it’s ever been, and that’s made it ripe for predation — and you’ll find no better example of it than something happening under MIT’s own roof.
Growing up in India, we often came across “Hijras,” people who we understood were somehow labeled as different.
Donald Trump will be the first president to completely disregard data and blatantly devalue expert judgment. If the MIT administration wants to justify its decision to engage in its fight against climate change, then this is the opportune moment to do it.
In the months since the bubble burst, MIT could have taken a nonpartisan position that attempted to broaden the community’s perspective and to encourage disappointed students to make the best out of the situation. Instead, MIT’s unproductive official response has reconstructed the divisive bubble and alienated many on campus.
Spouses and families support MIT graduate students on their journey towards a Ph.D. Spouses help hold the family together amid long hours in the lab, conferences away, and weeks in the field. Yet to MIT as an institution, we do not exist. We are ghosts, hardly counted, with no data on us in one place.
In February, I attended a discussion with Chancellor Barnhart regarding the future of the MIT education. Our guiding questions: What bold experiments in education should MIT pursue? What should a college education entail? I was prompted by the discussion to reflect on the character of the education I have received. Intent on understanding the most fundamental aspects of nature, I came to MIT seeking an education in physics. I will certainly leave knowing much more physics than when I arrived. However, I have received, or more accurately, stumbled into a second education—one that I did not seek because I was not aware I needed it. I now believe this second education, which I will call my “human education,” is significantly more important than my technical one; and moreover, that it has benefited me in a deeper and more serious way. My motive for writing, then, is to clarify what I mean by this human education and to explain why it is particularly needful at MIT. I hope my peculiar experience may help others address the questions Chancellor Barnhart posed.
Career Fair must be managed by an organization motivated by a mission to serve the entire undergraduate population, and not rooted in monetary incentives, so that CF will be better aligned with the professional development needs of MIT undergraduates.
Numerous MIT alumni, including myself, are rushing to protect Senior House from the recent attacks on the dorm and its community. The Senior House community and set of values were a constant source of joy, belonging, and refuge for me and for so many others, during my years at MIT.
SIPB believes that access to a virtually unlimited pool of public IPv4 addresses is a privilege that tremendously enhances the value of an MIT education, both for students learning to build new internet services and for students who use those services. As such, we advocate for a full rollback of NAT deployment on campus networks.
After hearing news of the program's end, a few alumni of the exchange are rallying to revive the program; however, their years of removal from the program and its flaws shield them from the ways in which the program is unfair and, at times, harmful to MIT students.
Starting this year, MIT’s investment arm, MITIMCO, is undertaking a new development near Kendall Square which will bring in well over 10,000 workers. Jobs are good, but new workers will make housing in the Cambridge area even more scarce. We need the MIT student body to take a stand: we should not bring new workers to Cambridge without providing more housing for graduate students.
When I was a student at MIT, almost no one voted in municipal elections; they seemed so inconsequential. After I left MIT, I was surprised to find that participating in municipal elections has a direct impact on my life and a much greater impact than national elections.
It is far too easy nowadays to become overwhelmed with all the strife and conflict worldwide. On all outlets of media, from CNN to Facebook, we find ourselves presented with disaster after disaster, crisis after crisis, war after war. And yet the last fifteen years have been some of the safest the Earth has ever seen.
When I visited MIT during CPW, I was confused by the students’ usage of the word “culture,” especially with respect to dorms. To me, a dorm was nothing more than a residence, a space where there were twin size beds your feet would hang off the end of, where you wore slippers in the showers. I especially did not understand places like East Campus and Senior House, where there were murals and dyed hair and loud music blaring in the courtyard. These people all seemed to be trying too hard to be scary and weird (and it worked, I was pretty scared), and I had simply wanted to live somewhere clean and mildly friendly. Whatever this “culture” thing entailed, I did not want to be a part of it. I ended up living in Next for all four years of MIT; I lived there because it seemed clean and mildly friendly.
Last week, Chancellor Barnhart told The Tech that “MIT students” would be housed in Senior House this Fall, but could make no guarantees beyond this vague statement. Below this article on The Tech homepage was a story about the large decline in senior gift donations this academic year, fueled by student frustrations over a lack of transparency and student input in recent student life decisions at the Institute. With the revelation of this newest closed-door decision, it seems clear that MIT has yet to abandon this trend of limited student engagement that may further exacerbate the course of declining donation rates.
On Dec. 6, 2017, President Trump announced that America officially acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and would eventually move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Referring to this as “acknowledging the obvious,” Trump explained that Israel is a sovereign state, recognized internationally and by the U.S., with the right to determine its own capital. In his declaration, Trump reiterated that such a move has no bearing on the city’s status under any peace agreement.
The economic decisions we make today must account for both the future and immediate impacts to ensure my generation inherits an economy marked by prosperity rather than climate chaos.
People, institutions, and the relationships within all grow and change over time. We can’t be afraid of that; in fact, we should embrace it. Perhaps in the best relationships, partners grow alongside one another, committing to both give and take in a mutual exchange built on reciprocal trust and respect.
Not only will your interactions with these inmates help bring “a sense of normalcy” to their lives and help their development, but they will also challenge your own ideas of what is normal and help you develop various aspects of your life.
MIT's "Telemedicine and Telehealth for Enhancing Global Health" class teaches students valuable information about healthcare accessibility — and it's at risk of not being offered again.
"Dialogue" is not what is needed in the Palestinian struggle.
Big political issues, such as housing affordability, public transportation, and climate change, affect everybody, whether you’re an MIT student or a local Cambridge resident. In this piece, the MIT Democrats outline which Massachusetts primary candidates they think will do the best job in promoting the public’s interests.
The city of Cambridge has just released a plan to improve conditions along Mass Ave for bikers, pedestrians, and buses. However, further changes are still necessary to support biking safety and public transportation.
You may be understandably cynical about the prospects for real action [on climate change], but remember, we’ve logged some recent massive successes on other fronts. We pulled 1 billion people out of extreme poverty. We’ve gone a long way toward healing the ozone hole. We essentially shut down acid rain, and more. We can solve climate change.
The U.S. needs to take a stronger approach if it wants to contain the threat posed by North Korea to the rest of the world.
Though iGEM was founded at MIT, the competition needs to be hosted in a different country in light of the U.S.’s current immigration policies.
History has shown us that science has the potential to do more harm than good, and the College of Computing is a testament to MIT's responsibility to make sure it is used properly.
In lieu of celebrating the founding of the Schwarzman College of Computing, the MIT community should attend a different event organized by members of the MIT community to discuss the ethical issues of the college.
It disturbs me that the strong language of announcements about the College of Computing, like “the need for bold action, at scale and with speed,” appears to contradict what I hear from graduate students in EECS whose department and/or advisors assure them nothing will change.
The recommendations made by Congress are not ultimately out of place. Their premise is to limit the devastation occurring in Yemen and to rebuke the actions of the Saudi Arabian crown prince; however, they will soon find that these goals may unfortunately act in opposition to one another.
A look into how the DSL failed to uphold its promises on the New Vassar dorm.
What the MIT administration, faculty, and students can do to address the ethical concerns of the College of Computing.
Amidst the growing number of housing controversies that seem to jeopardize student culture without regard for student opinion, some students have been trying to take matters into their own hands to get the administration’s attention. Among these plans was a boycott of CPW to protest the new “design exercise,” which imposes restrictions on mutual selection and allows squatting for freshmen during the rooming process. While it is frustrating that the administration seems to hold little regard for student input, the CPW boycott and the narrative around housing changes have been binary and ineffective for all parties. To shed some light on the issue, I’ll share some of my experiences with REX, thoughts on the process, and suggestions for the administration and ourselves to sow a better conversation around housing changes.
It has been five years since MIT first conducted a campus-wide survey on attitudes towards sexual assault and misconduct, so some students may not know or remember how MIT responded to its past findings. The 2014 Campus Attitudes on Sexual Assault Survey (CASA) results offered a great starting point for making data-driven decisions about policies, education, and outreach efforts on campus, including increased transparency and support for students.
Nineteen democrats are running for president in 2020, and more could still enter the race. This presents a wonderful tradeoff. We need options if we’re going to elect the best person. However, too many options causes choice paralysis. As a consequence, most of us will neglect to choose who we vote for until there are fewer options.
I am calling for the immediate resignation of MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito because of his deep connections with Epstein, his lack of leadership explaining his involvement, and the lack of transparency about the extent of his interactions with Epstein.
The current climate and ecological crisis calls for nothing short of rebellion. The least I can do is to take a stand against those stealing my future, our future, and the future of humanity.
The Reif-Epstein matter will remain swirled in controversy and conjecture until MIT makes a transparent release of all emails, documents, and minutes related to Epstein.
We must be concerned with the impression made on our students in condemning one donor for personal crimes and entirely overlooking the destructive transgressions of another, especially when the latter involves disinformation and attacks on science — the very antithesis of MIT’s mission as an educational institution.
The silence on these issues, from many appalled by Epstein, is explained by a white supremacist logic that doesn’t see the university’s routine operation — which is complicit with the misery of the poor and non-white in the name of American empire — as sufficient cause for outrage.
By divesting from fossil fuels, MIT can send a strong message that extracting and burning fossil fuels is not just normal commerce — it is deeply immoral and unjust, and it is killing people all over the world. Divestment would be not only the right thing to do, but also a highly effective strategy for action on the climate crisis.
Graduate students serve an indispensable role in MIT’s community. We teach and mentor undergraduates, generate new knowledge through our research, secure funding through grant writing, produce journal articles, and foster community. However, despite our passion and dedication, our work at MIT can exact a heavy toll on our physical and mental well-being. This is not how it has to be.
Although students make up around 20 percent of the population of Cambridge, we are woefully underrepresented by Cambridge’s City Council, where eight of nine members are over the age of 50 and do not give student concerns the consideration we deserve. This November, as all of City Council stands for re-election, we have a chance to change that.
MIT Divest, a new movement on campus, is calling on MIT to take leadership in addressing the climate crisis by divesting from fossil fuel companies, detailing in an article two weeks ago why divestment should be the path forward.
If Seth Lloyd is looking to be told by students when he has done wrong, here it is: by continuing to teach, by continuing to advise undergraduate and graduate students, by continuing to be a part of our scientific community, Seth Lloyd is continuing to do harm. Seth Lloyd should not remain at MIT.
Imagine the outcomes if MIT admins would open their eyes to the realities of students' lives rather than constantly asking them to open their hearts for this mental health officer or at that counselling service office.
We will not wait a day longer. We will not wait for these conversations to happen weeks from now, in a back room, on terms dictated by the very people who committed the relevant offenses.
MIT is arguably the most ideal place to kickstart the development of wide-reaching initiatives in AI that would socially benefit and boost growth of Latin America.
“MIT has not divested its $17 billion endowment from its fossil fuel holdings, which MIT Divest is fighting for.”
“MIT’s proposed rent hikes do nothing to relieve the rent burden of those living off campus, while actively worsening the lives of those on campus.”
From freshman learning communities to extracurricular student groups, activities, and teams, the MIT campus fosters so much opportunity for enrichment, learning, support, stress relief, and community outside of traditional academic courses. Many of these communities consist largely or solely of undergraduates, and have needed to go on “pause” for the rest of the semester.
So even as we close public places, ranging from churches to restaurants, movie theaters to sports games, as part of necessary social distancing measures, we must not close off our hearts.
Hopefully for some college students who are just entering the political sphere, the coronavirus crisis and the way our (democratic and less democratic) institutions respond, including but not limited to the recent stimulus bill, serve to bring them into the fold.
Chen and Komaiha have the most cohesive vision for what MIT should look like and how to implement that change. Their vision for MIT is one in which students hold real power in decision-making processes and have the support systems necessary to voice their opinions.
The Division of Student Life (DSL) and Housing and Residential Services (HRS) recently decided to overhaul the security of East Campus. The plan they designed rejected six months of collaborative work and incorporated minimal student contribution. This is not an acceptable model for student-administration relations.
At a university that invites trusted partners such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to Career Fair in order to direct students deeper into the U.S. war machine, it is perhaps fitting that MIT graduates will be sent off into the world with warm anecdotes and hardy life lessons from SEAL training.
Why is American-ness something we have to prove? Will handing out masks wearing red, white, and blue truly erase any hostility? What about after the virus? All of this begs the question, what if the virus originated from a European country?
The general collection method of recyclables on MIT’s campus is single-stream recycling, where all recyclable goods are accepted in the same waste stream, regardless of their material.
We are demanding reforms to graduate admissions and faculty hiring procedures; concrete department- and Institute-level support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives; transparency and accountability for bad actors; and material support for all graduate students at MIT, including the social sciences which are an important source of anti-oppressive research.
The opportunity to demonstrate or abdicate leadership in this role presents itself each time MIT responds or neglects the challenges facing citizens across the nation and the globe.
With his strong voting record, his years of dedicated service, and his active role in spearheading progressive policy, Ed Markey is the voice Massachusetts needs, and MIT Democrats proudly endorses his candidacy for U.S. Senate.