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Letters to the Editor

While some members of the MIT community debate the existence of absolute moral values, others struggle with the bigotry and intolerance that are the consequences of moral absolutism gone wrong. We do not argue with those who have found absolute, timeless truths; we vehemently object, however, to that small minority which believes its Truth to be so fragile that it can be protected only by silencing all debate and refusing all discussion.

Recently the Pagan Students Group received, anonymously, through interdepartmental mail, a photocopy of a magazine article about convicted murderer Sean Sellers, who claimed involvement with Satanism. We were hurt and puzzled; we are not Satanists, nor are we criminals. This article had nothing to do with us or our activities, and since the envelope was addressed to the "MIT Pagan Society," it seems that the sender had little information about us.

Through informational flyers and our annual Paganism 101 presentation, we have struggled to explain who we are and the life-affirming nature religion we practice. But our bulletin board has consistently been stripped. How can we tell people what we believe in if our bulletin board is bare? Posters for Paganism 101 were destroyed within an hour of their appearance in the Infinite Corridor. How can we participate fully in the religious community of MIT if vandals prevent us from announcing our events?

Other religious groups, and groups with controversial messages, report similar problems. Into the ongoing discussion of morality and truth we want to inject a comment, and a caution -- that no search for Truth is served by the actions of those who use vandalism and anonymous accusations to silence any views different from their own.

Sherrian Lea '93

and seven others

Next House Dining Hall Should Stay Open

Why should Baker House be the only dormitory dining hall to stay open? The best way to answer this question is to figure out why the others shouldn't. Maybe then the current proposal will make more sense.

Though my knowledge of other dorms is minute, I believe that McCormick Hall and MacGregor House have ample cooking facilities. Residents of these dorms would still be able to eat in their own buildings if their dining halls are closed. They wouldn't be too inconvenienced. Besides, the Student Center is right across the street from McCormick. So I can understand the decision to close these two dining halls.

However, what is the reason behind closing Next House dining hall? I've lived at Next House for three-and-a-half years now and I can factually say that the current proposal greatly inconveniences Next House residents. We have a total of three stoves for our 380 residents. Also, if the current proposal passes, we will have to trek either to Baker or the Student Center -- they're both the same distance for us -- just to eat. Or we could live off Domino's Pizza and other fast food delivery services. Now compare this inconvenience to the one people face if the Baker dining hall were closed. Baker residents would have to cross Amherst Alley to get to the Student Center. Not that long a walk.

I've wondered why Baker was selected as the lone open dining hall. A friend of mine said she heard Baker was chosen because it was the most central location. Most central to what? The Student Center? Sure, everyone on the west side of campus has to pass Baker, but not everyone does so during the dinner hours! Keeping Next House open instead gives students at MacGregor a more convenient place to eat after their dining hall is closed. We New House residents use our dining hall, too.

Lawrence E. Maguire, [director of housing and food services], I implore you to take a walk from Next House to Baker or the Student Center on a sub-zero temperature, rainy, or snowy night just to eat dinner. After taking this difficult journey, ask yourself how you can justify asking 380 Next House residents to make the same trip every night. I seriously doubt you'll be able to.

I don't want to give the impression that inconveniencing Next House residents outweighs inconveniencing Baker residents. I just feel that a new proposal should be considered. This proposal should be similar to the current one -- no mandatory meal plan -- but with Next House kept open instead. Such a proposal would still inconvenience some people, but far less than the current plan would.

Pete Tarsi '93

Cost-Cutting Hurts Russian Program

MIT's first swing of the budget ax could not have been more misplaced. I can think of no other cost-cutting measure which would have such a large negative effect with so little money saved as the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section's decision not to renew the contract of Elena Semeka-Pankratova.

There are currently only three lecturers in MIT's Russian program, and Semeka-Pankratova's removal will mean the elimination of<\!s>almost every advanced level Russian class<\!s>here. And since some Russian I-IV (21.261-21.264) classes will now offer only one section instead of two, it will become impossible for students to find time to build even a basic knowledge of Russian.

Budget cuts may be necessary, but not in a program already so small that the loss of one lecturer will mortally hobble it. For example, since the option of a minor or double major in Russian will be eliminated, many students will be stranded halfway through a program that will become impossible to complete.

With growing opportunities in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union, it is unthinkable that MIT should slash its Russian program -- especially when the monetary cost, one lecturer's salary, is so relatively insignificant.

By circulating a petition urging the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section to reconsider its decision, students are showing their foresight. In a decade of increasing globalization, this is a defining moment which will determine whether MIT's much-ballyhooed international perspective and commitment to "diversity" are viewed as truly important, or as "fluff" to be lightly discarded at the first stage of belt-tightening.

Michael T. Decerbo '95

Tech "Blunder" Box Is Mean-Spirited

I don't know how long you've been running it, but I first noticed the "Blunder of the Week" box in your sports section a couple of weeks ago.

I've been reading it since then, trying to understand why it's there. It's a mean-spirited little item, clumsy, childish, and without even the touch of humor that might justify its appearance.

So what if someone's missed an easy lay-up during the week, or tripped on the ice in a hockey game? These athletes aren't mega-stars, with big-money contracts. They're your fellow students, playing these sports to have fun, learn, challenge themselves, and maybe even to entertain the few fans that turn out to watch. They certainly don't need any snotty blind-siding from Globe-hack wannabees.

The athletes don't correct The Tech's many typos during their pre-game warmups. I suggest that you return the favor, and cut them some slack.

Gary L. Dryfoos