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Students split on gulf war

Right now, on the MIT campus, everybody's constantly talking about the war. All the time. Everywhere. Yesterday, a Lobdell Court worker asked me if I wanted "pickles, chips or Patriot defense missiles." One of my professors handed out a syllabus which ended, "LATE MAY: FINAL EXAM: To be scheduled by Schedules Office. EARLY JUNE: TRIP TO SAUDI ARABIA: To be scheduled by Local Draft Board."

Interestingly enough, with all the talk of war on this campus, I have no idea where the average MIT student stands on the war. On one hand, the third floor of the Holiday Inn -- oops, Student Center -- has been occupied by peace activists for weeks now. On the other hand, pro-war activists have postered the Institute with creative signs along the lines of "So-damn Insane must be stopped." (Yuk, Yuk.) Oh, sorry, the "Yuk, Yuk" was mine.

But this doesn't tell me anything about the average student. First of all, I don't think that a lot of the people on the third floor of the Student Center are MIT students. I base this on several observations. First of all, I don't recognize most of them, and MIT isn't that big. Second of all, they have infinite amounts of time to spend down there, and most MIT students don't. But the most important reason is the sign at the east end of the Infinite Corridor.

This sign declares "Get Organized" in hippy-trippy '60s-type writing and then tells us about the "Peace and Justice Center," which, says the sign, is on the third floor of the "Student Union Building."

Alarms should go off in the head of every true-blooded nerd! Student Union Building? STUDENT UNION BUILDING!?! We don't have one! Student Union Buildings are places that Big Universities have where Big University Students can go and do Big University Things. We here at MIT have a Student Center. Student Centers are places that Small Geek Tech Schools have where Small Geek Tech School Students go and. . . . Well, you get the idea.

Anyhow, the point is that no MIT student would ever refer to the Julius A. Stratton '23 Student Center as the "Student Union Building." The sign must have been painted (or tie-dyed) by a non-MIT student. In fact, it seems doubtful that MIT students were involved in any part of the process at all, considering that most MIT students are just anal enough to tell the poster maker, "It's not a student union; it's a student center!" It seems as if people from outside MIT have invaded us just to live on Stratton third and protest the war.

Of course, we know that nobody will ever ask them to leave, no matter who they are or what they do, because a famous reverend person (who makes pretty speeches that rhyme) stood in front of a lot of cameras and declared that our Student Center was now the "Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Peace and Justice Center." I don't understand how this name stuck. I mean, the last time the Rev. Jesse Jackson tried to rename a place, nobody liked it. Maybe he should have tried calling New York the "Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Hymietown."

At the same time, I'm not convinced of the numbers on the other side of the issue. How many pro-war activists are there on this campus? I'm not sure. There are at least enough to poster the place with wonderfully intelligent posters. My personal favorite, besides the aforementioned "So-damn Insane" masterpiece, was the Bart Simpson poster. It featured the Bartman himself, declaring that he was on the side of the pro-war effort. When I think international experts, I think Kissinger, Hammerskj"old and Simpson. I didn't even know the Simpsons had their own foreign policy.

How about more posters in the same vein? I envision a Flintstones poster: "Yabba-dabba-doo, let's nuke the bastards too!" Or maybe a Bullwinkle poster. Bullwinkle: "Hey, Rocky -- wanna see me pull a Scud out of my hat?" Rocky: "That trick never works!" Perhaps the Smurfs: "Papa Smurf says, always keep your gas mask handy and know where your gas-proof room is." For sheer wartime stupidity, the Bart poster took the cake. Running a close second behind Bart is the group of people I know who wanted to declare the second floor the "Barry Goldwater Memorial Nuke 'Em Till They Glow Center."

The letters to The Tech, usually a reasonably accurate barometer of student opinion, are all over the map and show no coherent student feeling on the issue. Ranging from "Bush is a great man" to "Bush is a putz," they leave me with the impression that student opinion is more split and confused than the opinion of the general public.

And I don't blame student opinion for being that way. During a recent press conference, I heard a military spokesman refer to KIAs and WIAs. It took me a few seconds to catch up with him: KIA means "killed in action" and WIA, "wounded in action." Just as soon as you've figured out that "Operation Desert Storm" is a synonym for "Bomb 'Em Till They're Goofy," they throw another phrase at you. My favorite newspeak term came during Bush's State of the Union address, when he lamented that this war comes during a "temporary interruption of the largest peacetime expansion in our history." Just a moment while I shovel away the crap. . . . OK, now that I can see it clearly, I'll translate it: RECESSION!

So, folks, if you feel confused by the war issue, if you aren't sure where your fellow MIT friends stand on the issue, well, you are not alone.


Tech Opinion Editor Bill Jackson says that his Scud is bigger than your Scud.

When I think international experts,I think Kissinger, Hammerskj"old and Simpson. I didn't even know the Simpsons had their own foreign policy.

Student Centers are places that Small Geek Tech Schools have where Small Geek Tech School Students go.