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Friday the Thirteenth, Part XXI

Column By Adam Braff

The life of a columnist is fraught with peril. People I hardly know collar me in the Institute and ask why I haven't written about subject X. People I know well bang on my door in the middle of the night and demand 1200 words on injustice Y. It's enough to make a guy want to transfer.

But unless my editor tells me to cover it, no topic merits a whole column. The best I can do, on this unlucky Friday the thirteenth, is to mention the most substantive flames about our school and its appendages. Here they are: a baker's dozen of changes, as suggested by you, the huddled masses.

Install dormline phones in the Institute. A student who needs to call his dormitory from the main complex of MIT buildings is out of luck, unless he's in Lobby 7 or near some other obscure phone I didn't manage to find. Eerily, there are a few dormline-looking phones at various junctures in the Institute, but most of these are dead. We shouldn't have to tie up some overworked secretary's phone every time we need to call the home office.

Change some of the men's rooms into women's rooms. There are precious few places for an MIT woman to powder her nose at this machismo-drunk school of ours. Many a female student has made the above request. Besides, guys, we don't even need bathrooms. Just trees and rooftops.

Schedule academic and athletic registration for different days. And handle the latter with computers as well. First-come-first-serve is no way to pick the lucky few who will get to sail and play volleyball. The current method gives unfair advantage to students big enough to muscle through the crowds to get to the activities of choice, thereby making the beefy beefier and the scrawny scrawnier. Marx would be appalled.

Blaze new parking lots. I don't care how they do it. There is simply not enough room for all the parents, alumni, and prospective students to park their cars when they visit MIT. Speaking of Tech imperialism, have you ever noticed how our expansion is always longitudinal, that is, along the Charles? Let's expand northward toward Harvard, laying down asphalt as we go.

Change the graduation requirements back. Many of you screamed when you read the sheet bundled with your grade report a month ago. Yes, MIT has changed the requirements for all undergraduates, even seniors. Instead of a flat 360 units, we need to complete 180 to 198 units in addition to the mysterious and loathsome General Institute Requirements. Horror stories resulting from this ex post facto rule include a Course III student who is now taking six classes so she can graduate on time.

Give us a shuttle to the Coop. When the MIT Coop moved from the old Student Center to its current location in Kendall Square, the Coop bigwigs suggested they would organize a shuttle at the beginning of each term so that students wouldn't have to drag home two overstuffed bags of books to, say, Next House. Not a bad idea. The Coop should either start such a shuttle or give us an extra five percent in our rebate checks as reimbursement for our hernias.

Place receptacles for glass recycling outside Lobdell. One of the few non-paper containers you can still get at Lobdell is the glass bottle. To the dissatisfaction of the environment, however, nearly all of this glass is thrown out with the paper and unused food. A few short boxes, emptied often, would reduce a small fraction of the waste.

Equip LaVerde's and Toscanini's with Validine machines. These are, after all, three great institutions with Italian names. Imagine how convenient it would be to buy your weekly foodstuffs and dessert using that horrid little piece of plastic with your picture on it. If ARA objects, we ditch ARA. It can't last much longer anyway.

Speed up the elevators. With all the technology brewing at this place you'd think that one stinking elevator would be enjoyable to use. Well, there's one, but it's in building 37 and I don't go there often. If the Student Center elevators could be adjusted to go just ten times faster, the world would be a better place.

Give us a reading period. It's absurd to expect MIT students to take finals on one day's rest from the end of classes. A week after the end of each term would give the upperclassmen time to catch up on four months of reading, and would give the freshmen seven more nights to do whatever it is they do while we upperclassmen are reading.

Keep the Medical Center unlocked at night. This one is my personal pet peeve. I never learned how to walk around the thing to get to the T, so I usually scratch on the glass plaintively until some kind soul lets me in. And can somebody explain to me why it is that everybody but me always knows the combination? (5132)

Distribute finals schedules on registration day. At most schools (read: normal schools) students know at the start of a term exactly when it will end. MIT students, especially those who live far away and must make travel plans, are often left in limbo until about a month before the end of classes, when final examination schedules begin to materialize on random walls. This problem can easily be solved by scheduling rooms, dates, and times of finals at the start of the term, and then disseminating this valuable information on reg day, perhaps at the bottom of the LSC posters.

Tell us where we are. This request is addressed not to MIT, but to the Undergraduate Association and the Class of '87. Upon the latter's graduation, the class president presented Paul Gray with the class gift: plans to construct a map and announcement board on Massachusetts Avenue across from the main entrance. Any reasonable deadline for this undertaking has long since passed, and several '87 alums of my acquaintance want to know where their donations have come to rest. The UA -- acting on behalf of the undergraduates, whom the gift would benefit most -- should look into the matter.

Unless I miss my guess, this should soothe the collective brow of all the ill-tempered folks who have been leaning on me to print their gripes. Don't expect another free-for-all like this anytime soon -- the next Friday the thirteenth is in April. Until then, knock on wood.


Adam Braff, a junior in the School of Humanities and Social Science, is a columnist for The Tech.


If the student center elevators could be adjusted to go just ten times faster, the world would be a better place.

Speaking of Tech imperialism, have you ever noticed how our expansion is always longitudinal, that is, along the Charles? Let's expand northward toward Harvard, laying down asphalt as we go.