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Letters to the Editor

Editors Note: The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to President Charles M. Vest, Provost Mark Wrighton and Larry Maguire

I am writing to you to stress the importance of the dorm networking project. It seems that this project has been on the table for a number of years already, and it is always several years away. After speaking to some people in Network Services, I now understand that it is technically feasible to have the dorms networked by next fall. I would like to suggest that this project should be very high on the list of priorities, and if at all possible, should be done this year.

At this point, the Athena clusters have become so crowded that people are often forced to stand around and wait for a workstation. This has been growing worse and worse each year, and to attempt to keep up with demand by buying new workstations will be an expensive proposition. However, if the money is spent on networking the dorms instead, the number of workstations available to students will jump. This way, students who want or need to spend a lot of time with a computer will have the option of buying computers for themselves, and I believe that this will also reduce demand in public clusters (certainly it will in the long run).

I also believe that this project makes good sense financially in the long run. MIT will not have to buy workstations and maintain expensive service contracts on them, since students will maintain their own machines. While some public resources will still be required for those who do not have computers, I believe that the resources required for this purpose will be much smaller, and Information Systems will be able to devote more resources to more productive projects, such as software development, rather than having to maintain a vast amount of hardware.

While I have not conducted a formal survey or circulated a petition to gauge student interest, I am willing to do so if it will help to speed the project along. From speaking informally to other students, I believe that the level of interest in this project is very high, and efforts should be made to see that it gets the attention it deserves.

Daniel J. Thumim '94

Baker, Next Dining Halls Should Stay Open

Students here pay enough tuition that MIT should have enough money to be able to operate dining halls at a marginal loss for the convenience of its students; the dining halls at Next House and Baker House should both remain open. If the dining hall at Next House were eliminated, students there would have to walk all the way to the Student Center and back to get hot food (unless they were to cook it themselves). This would be a very frigid walk in the winter months, and with all of our time commitments as MIT students, this is simply unreasonable. If only one of the four dining halls were to stay open, it should be Next House.

However, Baker has very good reasons for keeping its dining hall, too. Baker has one kitchen facility for all of its residents, and as our housemaster said, "if you get more than eight people in there, it would be pandemonium." Baker's dining hall has a more pleasant atmosphere than Networks or Lobdell Court, and it has been a focus for Baker House community spirit in the past. If Baker dining hall would be open for lunch and dinner (a la carte), it would draw some of the crowds away from Lobdell Court and Networks, and make service better for everyone. The dining halls at both Baker House and Next House should stay open.

The first proposed house dining plan this year was rejected by a large portion of the student body. Students spent a lot of energy in defeating that dining plan; now we're tired and we don't want to think about it anymore, but we shouldn't stop caring. We must remain active and involved. Next House doesn't deserve to get hosed by the closing of its dining hall. If a good plan (including the Baker House and Next House dining halls) can be introduced, it may be something that could last a while. Maybe it won't turn a massive profit, but hopefully it will be something worth keeping. A little concern now could keep the dining atmosphere for the entire MIT community better for our entire time here.

Albert L. Hsu '96

Per Juvkam-Wold '94

UA Misunderstands Value of Free Speech

The Undergraduate Association opposition to the free speech initiative, ["Life Fee, Free Speech Referenda on Ballot," March 2] is puzzling and disturbing. UA vice-president David Kessler '94 describes the initiative as "very slanted." Why would anyone consider the idea of personal freedom slanted? The ballot questions do not promote any special agenda. They simply advocate the freedom of speech that every student should, and in this country does, have.

Some members of the UA seem to oppose the idea of fixing the harassment policy now, before a serious injustice occurs. This opposition makes little sense. Surely it is better to fix problems in the policy now, before it does damage, than later, when irreparable harm has been done. A policy which leaves MIT open to a first amendment lawsuit is unwise: the legal fees would be paid out of MIT's general revenue fund, which ultimately comes out of student tuition.

Colin Page '95 complains that he was angry because he and other members of the council could not modify the student-supported referendum. Why would Page want to deny a group of several hundred students the right to vote on an issue of its choice? Isn't the UA supposed to represent the students? If the student body does not support the ballot question, then it can vote against it at the ballot box. The initiative is democracy in action.

A vote for free speech is not support for harassment. With a better, more carefully written policy, we can ensure protection for students' constitutional right to free speech and, at the same time, ensure protection for victims of serious cases of harassment.

David A. Martin G