MIT, CRLS Students Meet with City MayorBy Sarah Y. Keightley
Spurred by the recent murder of Yngve K. Raustein '94, MIT students met with their counterparts from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School at City Hall yesterday for a discussion about the sources of teenage violence.
Two of Raustein's three alleged assailants are enrolled at CRLS. The meeting was led by Cambridge Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves.
School superintendent Mary Lou McGrath, some city council members, and the local press attended the meeting as well.
Students talked about violence, values, and possible solutions to prevent teenage crime and to help students who need special attention. These solutions included having schools, families, the community, and the government work together to shape children's and teens' values. Also, students recommended that their peers from MIT and CRLS work together to improve relations.
By the end of the meeting, some were displeased with the shift in topics. "We need to work on the violence in the community, not the relations between MIT and CRLS," said CRLS student Serena Derman.
Students discuss violence
Reeves opened by asking how the city council could address violence in the community. An MIT freshman suggested that the city begin by improving law enforcement.
Samantha Spitzer, a CRLS junior who organized last week's march to MIT in response to Raustein's death, said she wanted to address violence in the media. She said Raustein's murder was "given more attention than other violent incidents" because the alleged assailants were so young and the victim was an MIT student. The media glorify violence by placing so much attention on violent crimes, she said. Teenagers receive the message that they will be famous if they commit crimes, she added.
William A. Jackson '93 said it is necessary to get the message out to society that there are consequences to committing crimes.
David J. Kessler '94, Undergraduate Association vice president, said high schools should attempt to foster a sense of community, equality, and value for every person.
"The objective should be to make everyone feel part of a community," said Raajnish A. Chitaley '95. He also recommended a high school course that would teach students about their community, including community programs and the importance of voting.
Students suggest solutions
Many of the students thought teenagers should be able to get more support through their schools.
Teachers do not take much of an interest in students unless they "think you have more of a chance to succeed in life," said Kate Burlingham, a CRLS sophomore. School officials should "try to get students more involved in school" because it is easy to "get lost," she said. "Make [students] believe they can really do something."
Reeves said that Cambridge spends approximately $11,000 per student each year, and he asked the students how they would spend that money.
Derman responded that drug education and sex education should be mandatory. Also, she said there should be a class emphasizing the value of human life, though she noted that most teenagers have formed their values by the time they reach high school.
Shally Bansal '93, UA president, said some of the money should be "put back into the support system." Students need to be motivated, and school officials should focus on the fact that students can contribute to society, she said.
Rivera said the high schools needed more guidance counselors. Spitzer agreed, saying students only see counselors when they have problems with their schedules or if they are troublemakers.
MIT, CRLS may work together
Some students suggested that MIT and CRLS work together. Spitzer said MIT students should come and talk to CRLS students, telling them about college and their personal goals.
Derman said that such a bridge would be difficult to build because "most people I know feel no connection" to MIT students. When college students think of Cambridge, they think of Harvard Square, not the rest of the city, she said.
Students then discussed the possibility of increasing the number of MIT students who tutor children in area grade schools.
"I don't think the answer is working together," Jackson said. It is learning to respect people and to respect Cambridge, he said.
Sarah E. Gallop, the liaison between MIT and Cambridge, said the meeting went well. It was "a lot of the discussion we'd hoped for," she said, including values, community, and the roles of government and schools. "Overall, there was the sense that we can help each other."
"It was a wonderful idea to bring the students together," said Albert H. Giroux Jr., director of public information for the Cambridge Public Schools. He said it was unfortunate that the students from CRLS who participated are not the ones that need the most help. "What we have to do is get those [other] students involved."
The MIT students took part in the discussion as part of their seminar "Current Issues at MIT." Stephen D. Immerman, director of special services, J. Kim Vandiver, professor of ocean engineering, and Gallop head the seminar, which meets every week to discuss a topic of local interest. Originally, this week's seminar was to focus on city issues, with the mayor and city council members present. However, the meeting's focus was changed in response to the Sept. 18 stabbing of Raustein.