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Chocolate City not a threat to Institute diversity

One of MIT's most appealing features is its diversity. Despite this fact, the Institute regularly tries to become more diverse. President Charles M. Vest should be thanked for noticing the fact that MIT's faculty does not correspond ethnically to its undergraduate and graduate body. Unfortunately, I haven't seen much progress on this problem, even though it still exists. I guess diversity has lost its novelty.

The problem now getting attention is a residence selection policy that would prevent independent living groups from rushing freshmen, the theory being that the current process facilitates segregation. These proposals would affect all ILGs, but I somehow feel that they are directed at my living group, Chocolate City, more than any other. Perhaps I feel this way because I see ignorant statements in The Tech. What is the administration's vision of diversity? A cluster of homogenous dormitories having no distinct personalities, natures or interests?

As a pre-frosh, I was eager to see if there was a place at MIT where I knew I would be accepted, and not ostracized for being a minority. I looked at the dormitories and the people from East Campus to Bexley Hall to Next House. I considered fraternities, ILGs and off-campus housing.

In my four-day tour of the campus as a senior in high school, I noticed that the only people who would talk to me without quaking with fear or making me feel out of place were a select few of the minorities, particularly the black males, and not even all of them. I was only comfortable when I returned to CC, my host living group, and engaged in casual conversation with a couple members. I felt assured that I would be comfortable if I returned there as a freshman.

I find it hard to believe that the Institute's leaders are so narrow-minded and that they think that since CC is made up primarily of blacks and Hispanics, it is not diverse. CC members are from all over the United States and the Caribbean. Personally, I do not feel that race is an accurate measure of a group's diversity.

I have found that what is enjoyable about diversity is differences in perspective, such as family background, career interests and personal experiences. This diversity definitely exists in CC if no place else; if you don't think so, just come to one of our house discussions.

I, along with 4000 others, pay over $26,000 a year to be here. Every day I go to classes and labs filled with people who cannot identify with me. I am taught by faculty who cannot relate to me, and who often ridicule me for asking stupid questions. I then sit in dining halls filled with people who don't speak to me. The only thing to look forward to is coming home and taking comfort in the fact that there are others going through the same thing who can relate to me. And I am sure people of other ethnic groups go through similar experiences. Anyone who argues against the need for places like CC either doesn't want to see us do well here, or is just plain insensitive. If the Institute's desired ends are to hurt us and to contribute to the genocide of the black ethnicity, then the most effective means would be to eliminate CC.

Berdell Knowles Jr. '94->