Bad Winter Stresses Physical Plant
As the Director of Physical Plant, I cannot help but comment on Stephanie A. Jenrette's article ["Snowplows Irk East Campus Residents," March 15] concerning snow removal in the East Campus. While I strongly embrace Jenrette's freedom to express her opinion and criticize basic services, I cannot help but be offended by her tone and lack of objectivity. I am equally disturbed that The Tech would print what clearly appears to be a humorless and offensive "bashing." At MIT there should be no room for bashing of any kind, be it racial, gender, or intellectual.
We have just experienced the worst winter in history, certainly in terms of snowfall. During the entire winter the Institute remained open and operating as usual. This placed a tremendous burden on our service workers to keep pathways, roadways, garages, etc., clear enough for students, faculty, and staff to get to work or school and to get around campus. The fact that Jenrette raised about "metal scraping concrete" must mean that we were successful. Though she derides this fact, many others applaud it. Physical Plant workers were not plotting to irritate East Campus residents. On the contrary, they worked throughout the night and into the morning hours to ensure that the Institute could remain open. There were at least five nights this past winter when these individuals never went home, but worked throughout the night and the entire next day.
Removing snow on campus is a well-defined process with clear priorities that were continually met throughout this past winter. I encourage anyone to meet with me or Robert Hagerty, manager of Grounds Services, to review it. Most importantly I would have hoped that Jenrette's complaints would have come to our attention early on. We could then have addressed them in a reasonable fashion and shared information as to why things are done in a certain way.
There must always be room for constructive criticism in this academic setting. As a department we welcome it. However as director of this department I neither welcome nor condone what I see as a lack of respect for service workers whose intentions and actions were truly heroic in many instances. I have spoken with a number of them. They are confused and offended, and they have a right to be.
Victoria V. Sirianni
MIT Physical Plant