Book Reveals MIT Dean's "Final Solution"Column by Anders Hove
A recent glance up at my bookshelf revealed to me what I should have noticed long ago: The 30 days allowed for a free refund on my copy of Vladimir Zhirinovsky: A Half-Life were about to run out. High time I made another visit to the Balkan Subversive and Revolutionary Bookstore on Brattle Street.
The keeper of the shop, Radovan, resembles a withered oak in appearance, and an Eastern European factory in aroma. He's not the sort of person to be "happy" to see anyone, but when my face popped up out of the cobwebs and shadows that compete for space among the dusty volumes of his cluttered crypt, I could almost imagine the hint of a glow in Radovan's eyes.
"I was hoping you would stop by," he grunted. "You are from MIT. You must tell me about this conspiracy we are all hearing about. This, how do you say, Strategic Housing Fascist Committee?' "
"Planning committee," I corrected him. "You have some sick and twisted ideas, Rado, but your MIT conspiracy theories just beat them all. The SHPC is totally above board. They have nothing to hide. You're all wrong about this."
I admit, at one point I could have agreed with Radovan. The sordid tale that first reached my ear was this: It had been a long, hot summer here at the 'Tute. Convening in secret session in the "Star Chamber," several administrators decided to recover from their mutual heat-stroke by finally hunkering down and fulfilling their decades-old diabolical plot to rid themselves of those warts of dormitories, East Campus and Senior House.
Once all the undergrads were concentrated on the west side of Massachusetts Avenue, they would set up Berlin Walls along Memorial Drive and Amherst Alley. Finally, within this campus ghetto they would create a "more cohesive" student body.
The truth, later explained to me by a gaggle of deans, was far more reassuring. In reality, the administration was a kind, benign, benevolent organization that never concocted plans without hearing first from the students most affected by them.
As I finished delivering this excogitation to Radovan, his expression of concern gradually faded, replaced by his habitual scowl.
"I see you have been co-opted," he grumped, as he pulled from a nearby shelf a thick, red tome, which he handed to me.
I blew the dust off of the title; "Bürokrat Macht," I asked?
Bürokrat Macht is a life-shattering manifesto. Its author, Dean R_____, describes in crushing detail how a university administration should go about controlling its student body. Take this tract, for instance:
"The student body is very important to the administrator. The institutions of student democracy and the ad hoc grass roots committees often formed as a response to the actions of administrators can be either an obstacle or an aid to planners. Administrators should take the time to inform key elites of any plans they are making. This helps make those students feel included' and involved.' It also sets them apart from other students, and may even convince the chosen few that The Scheme, in all its vaunted secrecy, is actually acceptable.
"Sometimes, however, word gets out in spite of every precaution. In that case, two tactics present themselves. First, administrators can announce that not only did they wisely inform the important student leaders of their plans, but that they had already received student input, and taken it into all due consideration.
"The second, more risky option may yield a higher payoff. In the strategy I will call programmed inclusion,' administrators announce that student input will be welcomed only during a brief interval between the end of planning' and what we will call the decision.' Administrators using this tactic will find it useful to refer to the planning as fact-finding.' This allows for the pretense that only trivial or inane matters were discussed during the process of planning, and that the pre-programmed options' laid out during the planning process have some basis in the facts' the planning committee found.' During the programmed inclusion phase, students are allowed to say whatever they want. Administrators inform them that their views are important. The key is to make sure students believe that their opinions were first considered, and then rejected, and not the other way around."
According to Bürokrat Macht, another good way of marginalizing student input is to base long range planning on half-century-old reports written by unknown committees. This allows administrators to float random conceptual ideas, such as "cohesiveness of the student body," under the guise of received wisdom. Another tract:
"The administrator must be prepared to roll the iron dice if students become too unruly. In no case should the administrator allow students to participate in more than a superficial manner in working with the details of administrators plans. Administrators should remember: You are the future. You are the superior race. Only you are capable of overseeing the totality' of campus issues. Only you have a long term interest. You will make the Institütreich last 10,000 years!"
I flopped the book closed, my pale visage betraying my shock and disgust. "So you see," snorted Radovan, "they've got it out for you. You were right about the west campus ghetto. It's the Final Solution to their housing problem. Eventually, you undergrads will be exterminated."
There didn't seem to be too much left to say, so I headed for the door. As I walked out into the surreal glow that is Harvard Square, I thought to myself: It's time to get out of Poland while there's still time.
East Campus resident Anders W. Hove '96 is currently in the market for nearby apartments with "secret annexes."