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Enjoy Your Years while You Still Can, Underclassmen

Column by Michael K. Chung
Outgoing Opinion Editor

"The time has come," sang Midnight Oil in their hit "Beds are Burning," and so it has. It's graduation time and I'm going to do what I've been looking forward to since I've gotten here - leaving.

I suppose that it's ironic to want to leave a place that I looked forward to coming to, but it's probably true for everyone. And besides, we all want to move on to the next stage of life (well, most of us do).

Have I enjoyed it here at MIT? Yes and no - I've had one of those love/hate relationships with MIT in my time here: love it when it's fun, hate it when there's too much to do. Now that I've reached the end of my education at MIT, I really envy the underclassmen, particularly the freshmen, for their additional college years ahead of them.

This past fall I read the essay in the Office of Career Services by an anonymous member of the class of 1990 entitled "What you should really know about interviewing with investment banks" earlier this year, and one sentence made me realize that the freedom of MIT and the college experience will soon be over: "You realize that you'll be entering the real world and leaving the dreamscape life one leads in college."

After this sank in, it made me realize how precious and unique these college years are. All this time I knew that sooner or later I'd be leaving and going on to further my education or starting a career somewhere. I hadn't really appreciated the college experience like I do now or will in the future.

I decided that I ought to do more at MIT and take advantage of its resources and the Boston area while I was still here. So I recharged myself and devoted more time to The Tech, joined the MIT Symphony Orchestra for their last concert, and ran the Boston Marathon. This was all fine and good, but of course there's a price to pay: no life!

This isn't entirely true of course - working at The Tech has provided many good times and some reasonably cool people to hang out with; besides, I wouldn't continue with The Tech unless I enjoyed it. Either way, I feel that while I've done a lot here, I haven't quite made the most of it. There is such a wealth of activities and clubs to take part in, yet seemingly little time to immerse oneself in them. I feel sorry for the people who didn't get more involved with activities on campus.

It's certainly easy to get caught up in the academic scene here and not get involved. But underclassmen take note: you'll pass this way but once, so you might as well make it worth your while. Keep in mind that I am not trying to play down the importance of academics in any way; in fact, joining clubs and activities may just help you perform better in school.

So what do I have to say here that I haven't said in previous columns? Why don't I just list some of my opinions that I didn't have the time or motivation to raise a big hoopla about? Some of you may remember the columns I wrote last fall about quotas and capital punishment ...

After all, this is my last column for the regular season, my "Farewell MIT" piece. I might as well end on a bang, right? Okay, but first, take the following quiz: Based on your reading of Michael K. Chung's columns, would you guess that he is pro-life or pro-choice? What about health care? Does Chung do drugs? And, would Chung ever want to be a soldier? Okay - close your paper for a minute and think about it. Answers follow below (no peeking).

Abortion: I'm pro-life, because I don't believe that man has the authority or should be able to determine the fate of an unborn fetus (some of you may recall that I favor the death penalty, and while I recognize that pro-life may not mix well with pro-capital punishment to some in the ideological sense, suffice it to say that I have my reasons for such beliefs, and do not find it appropriate to go through them all point by point in this particular column).

Health Care: I feel that it's foolish to leave the so-called "reform" in the hands of the medically ignorant (i.e. politicians and policymakers who handle red tape, but know little, if anything, about the art and practice of medicine. If doctors and health care providers can better identify and reduce inefficiencies in their practices and hospitals without consultants, so much the better to promote competition between them. HMO's? I'm sick of their advertising, but I suppose it's necessary to promote competition and better products in our free market of commodities.

Drugs: It seems like a pretty cool concept; drinking alcohol is legal, but can be used as a drug. Hmm, maybe I'd better leave this one alone, but no - I don't use drugs, in case you really care.

Foreign Policy: I don't know very much about this, so I'm not going to try. I will say that it's amusing to see the president (any president) of the United States always willing to provide money and relief to other countries and wonder why it is done. Honest concern? Not these days. Popularity? Seems reasonable. "National interest?" What are the interests of our nation, besides foreign oil and possibly establishing military bases and sites throughout the world?

The above doesn't have much to do with my willingness to fight in a war, but since I brought it up, I think it would be pretty neat to engage in armed combat (of the non-nuclear variety). However, I am opposed to killing people, and don't really care to die in combat at this point. After all, war isn't a video game where you get three lives and can stick in an extra quarter to play again. I'm sure that it would be quite an experience to have, and after seeing documentaries on television, it seems like an incredible feeling to be able to save a companion from death or vice versa.

Hmm, I'm starting to sound like I should join the Assassin's Guild. On this awkward note, I bid you farewell, wish you the best, and hope that you underclassmen who aren't involved in things become involved so that you don't look back at your education at MIT with regrets.

Damn. I'm gonna miss this place.