The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 29.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Abortion issues more complex than represented by either side

(Editor's note: The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to the MIT Police Association.)

Sometimes in the course of labor negotiations between union and management, one side or another undertakes some dramatic action that seeks to galvanize widespread support for its agenda. Presumably, that was the motivation underlying the leaflets distributed last week on behalf of the MIT Police Association. Regardless of the intent of those among you who are responsible for that document, the effect has been to anger and unsettle a specific segment of the Institute community and to do so in a way that cannot possibly engender sympathy for your cause.

As an individual citizen, as a black man, and as a representative of the Institute, I was deeply offended by the "description" of the clothing allegedly worn by members of these so-called gangs and by the statement entitled "The Danger." Clearly, the intent was to apply a frightening label to young minority males based solely on what they are wearing and constitutes a stunning insult to the Institute's minority community. As you well know, many of our own students regularly wear articles of the type listed. They are popular items of apparel among today's youth and can be seen everywhere. To so clearly imply that black or Hispanic men wearing such apparel are to be considered members of gangs, armed, and thirsting for blood is racist pandering of the most dishonorable sort. Particularly galling was the malicious choice to distribute such trash just as parents are arriving for planned weekend events. That similar shallow and despicable tactics were employed with some apparent success in the last presidential election should be a continuing source of shame for all Americans. But at least some members of your association, sworn to protect and defend all members of the Institute community, have apparently deemed these tactics worthy of emulation for narrow union gains.

Certainly, the Police Association's membership puts its individual lives and safety on the line daily on behalf of our safety. I believe that most members of the Institute community understand the difficult nature of your service, appreciate the continuing need for your presence, and would support reasonable demands for adequate wages, benefits, and working conditions. However, to stoop to alarmist and racist tactics that are supposed to frighten the general Institute community into support for your positions should be a profound embarrassment to the majority of your membership and will most likely be counterproductive to your legitimate objectives. I can only hope that the majority of MIT Police Association members loudly and publicly disavow the racism inherent in that nasty little tract and will take steps to ensure that no item of its sort is distributed on behalf of the Association in the future.

Isaac M. Colbert,->

Associate Dean of the->

Graduate School->