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Letters to the Editor

Mark A. Herschberg '95 claims that although MIT students are willing to complain about MIT, they feel that "it is someone else's job to change MIT." ["Students Must Help Solve Campus Problems," Nov. 13]. Herschberg cites the fact that there are "only six people on the UA Housing & R/O Committee" as a case in point.

The authors of this letter were both members of the Housing & R/O Committee when it formed early in the spring of 1992. Along with two other students, we comprised the Rush subcommittee. The two of us immediately started gathering information, ideas, and opinions; we interviewed several administrators, including Deans Smith and Tewhey; we discussed issues with students at HouseComm meetings, brought students with meaningful rush experiences to weekly meetings to elicit their opinions, and contacted student groups such as GAMIT and Chocolate City for their input. The other two members of the subcommittee failed to show up to all but one of the weekly meetings. As far as we know, they did not conduct any interviews or do any work.

After the Committee's chairperson failed to contact us for several weeks, we assumed that the Committee had become defunct. Herschberg's letter is the first we've heard of the Committee's continued existence since April.

Perhaps there are reasons other than lack of will which explain why students choose not to work through the UA in order to bring about change at MIT.

Robert C. Plotkin '93

Scott R. Velazquez '93

Committees Are Not the Answer to Problems

In reading Mark A. Herschberg's response ["Students Must Help Solve Campus Problems," Nov. 13] to Michael Chung's column from last week ["A Wish List of Ideas for Changes on Campus," Nov. 6], I was struck by his apparent love for bureaucracy. While I agree with Herschberg's assertion that it would be more commendable for Chung to take action than to merely publish a list of problems, I cannot concede that merely serving on a committee, or even creating one, is an effective form of action. MIT as a whole seems overly fond of red tape and bureaucracy. There is always another office that you can say is responsible for a problem, and Herschberg's list of committees to serve on is another symptom of this engineering school's inefficiency.

Committees, at their best, are only as effective as their members. At their worst, they cater to egos and not much else. While there are many devoted UA members, I dare say they are more effective as individuals than they are as a committee. I agree that those who see a problem need to step up and do something about it. But, unlike Herschberg, I believe there is more to doing something about a problem than attending meetings once a week and putting it on your resume.

Catherine E. Preston '95