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A Review of the Year's Editorials

In 1994, The Tech took the opportunity to examine, extol, criticize, and congratulate a range of issues and concerns facing the MIT community. Through its editorials, The Tech sought to give both voice and vision to events on campus and beyond.

Editorials are approved by the editorial board, composed of the chairman, editor in chief, managing editor, executive editor, news editors, and opinion editors.

The following are selections from The Tech's editorials of 1994:

Overhead Waiver Vital to UROP

February 22

Starting July 1, the cost of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program will more than double because of new federal regulations regarding overhead costs. The UROP program is an integral and important part of an MIT undergraduate education, and any reduction in UROP represents a considerable cause of alarm for all present and future MIT undergraduatesŠ

For many students, the UROP program has great educational value. The opportunity to do cutting-edge research as undergraduates attracts many students to MIT. For some, it is the factor that convinces them to choose MIT over other universities. Eighty percent of students hold a UROP during their academic careersŠ

In addition, some students use UROPs as work-study employment. If only credit or volunteer UROPs are available, these students may be denied a part of the MIT experience. Those who need to work for money may turn away from the UROP program altogether, hurting the students as well as MIT.

The administration should be lauded for its efforts to save UROP, but Provost Wrighton alone will probably not be able to convince the government to grant an exemption.

A coordinated effort by the students and affiliates of MIT must be made to make the government aware of the educational value of the UROP program. A change in policy regarding the waiver of overhead costs associated with UROP may have substantial results, possibly affecting more than meets the eye.

It is up to us, the MIT community as a whole, to take action by convincing the government of the importance of sustaining the current UROP program.

Dean Selection Thorough, Successful

March 1

On Feb. 1, Margaret A. Jablonski began her position as associate dean for residence and campus activities. Jablonski was appointed to the office formerly held by James R. Tewhey, who stepped down last April amid charges and counter-charges of sexual harassment. In her short time at MIT, Jablonski has already established herself as a motivated figure who is ready to take up the responsibilities of an effective associate dean for the studentsŠ

The role of RCA dean requires frequent contact with students and effective communication skills. Thus, including students in the selection process was an important and necessary step to ensure the appointment of the most promising candidateŠ

The Jablonski selection demonstrates that student involvement can have a beneficial result. This practice should be continued with other issues affecting student and campus life, including changes in food services, the academic curriculum, and the Institute calendar.

UAP/VP Candidates Disappointing

March 8

The Undergraduate Association elections taking place this week are one of the few chances the student body has to make a difference in student government. However, the candidates this year for UA president and vice president show a uniform lack of promise in the face of an apathetic constituencyŠ

In a year of budget cuts and core curriculum changes, it is especially important that our top student representatives have a positive track record of leadership within student activities, an understanding of how the UA operates, specific solutions to current issues, and the means with which to effect such changesŠ

While The Tech does not endorse a candidate pair for UAP/VP, it encourages students to vote for whomever they feel is best qualified, not only for the higher offices, but for other important UA positions.

Software Piracy A Serious Crime

April 12

While it is tempting to say that LaMacchia is guilty or innocent based on what limited information has emerged so far, a number of questions will remain unanswered until LaMacchia goes to court. Until then, it is foolish for students to condemn LaMacchia as a criminal or to hold him up as a symbol of injustice.

It is apparent from the indictment and from news articles that MIT is quite serious about stopping software piracy from taking place on computers owned or operated by the Institute, or connected to MITnet. Perhaps this attitude exists not only for moral reasons, but also because MIT is afraid of being prosecuted or sued for illegal software duplication. Whatever the reason, it is good for MIT to adopt such an attitude. After the publicity from the indictment has died down somewhat, Information Systems would be wise to disseminate information regarding what constitutes wire fraud and software piracy, and the possible legal consequences of these actions.

Some have criticized LaMacchia's indictment as overly harsh. Indeed, it does seem as though the government is trying to make an example of him in order to dissuade others from attempting to abuse network systems. But at the same time, LaMacchia stands accused of a serious crime.

LaMacchia's case hits home because he is one of us. But appearances can be deceiving, and if he is found guilty of the charges presented in the indictment, LaMacchia should be punished accordingly.

$1 Million Infusion To UROP Is Laudable

April 15

Provost Mark S. Wrighton's gift of $1 million to summer UROP students is a laudable example of the administration's continuing commitment to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program - and to providing undergraduates with needed financial assistance...

Because UROP is a central part of the Institute's undergraduate program, it is no surprise that the policy change has caused such a wave of concern. The use of funds functioning as endowment demonstrates the priority placed on undergraduate involvement in the research laboratories.

Still, this funding is only a temporary solution. We cannot depend on annual cash infusions to keep UROP students working in the numbers they are now. To spend this kind of money at all is remarkable for an institution with a budget deficit of over $10 million - but it is impossible for the long term...

Student efforts may be the most effective way to win outside support for UROP; students' personal experiences with UROP will far more effectively persuade a legislator than the appeals of administrators.

Therefore we must not let up in our efforts to lobby the government and solicit funding from outside sources. Come September, the $1 million grant will have disappeared and UROP will face the same problem it escaped for the summer.

Welcome, Class of 1998

August 25

Welcome and congratulations. Be proud not only of your admittance, but also of making the decision to come here to begin the first of what may come to be the most important years of your lifeŠ

Along the path to your commencement in 1998, you'll be challenged in ways you may not yet be able to imagine. Whether facing academic, social, or even physical challenges, you will find out what MIT is really about - stretching your mind, developing your abilities to their fullest, and pushing your limits.

So go ahead, take that hard class, try out for that team, join that interesting activity. Rush your favorite living group, and meet as many people as you can. But don't be overly disappointed if you don't get an A-plus, don't make the team, or don't have time for an activity. And don't get upset if you don't get a bid, don't get invited back to a party, or can't find the right group of friends right away. No matter what happens, always try to maintain perspectiveŠ

So welcome to MIT. Despite some flaws throughout the system, we feel that you will find your education here a positive experience overall. The resources of the Institute are truly great, both in quantity and quality. It is up to you to discover and take advantage of them.

Student-Run Dining Shows Great Effort

September 13

The Baker House Dining Committee should be congratulated for taking the initiative to provide quality on-campus food service. Many students have hungered for a way to prove there is a better way than ARA. At Baker, they have come forward with this proof, demonstrating that students can provide a workable alternative, at least on a small scaleŠ

The initiative being taken at the Baker House dining hall affects all students at MIT who will use food services on campus. A successful Baker dining hall will serve as a model for student empowerment and will hopefully encourage other such operations. If nothing else, perhaps it will give ARA the signal that students demand and are willing to work for better services. For this reason, any increase in student empowerment deserves the support of all members of the MIT community.

IFC Trials: A Model For Self-Governance

September 27

The recent rush trials of the Interfraternity Council Judicial Committee went unnoticed for most students. At an institution where harassment and discipline incidents often generate immeasurable controversy and discontent, the IFC should be lauded for a judicial system that works in a just and timely fashion. Although there are legitimate questions about the system's ability to discourage rush violations, the open and generally fair process should be modeled for other Institute dispute resolution processesŠ

Although the IFC system processes rush violations efficiently, the ability of the system to discourage violation remains suspect. Year after year, living groups violate long-standing and well-known rules like the prohibition against bad-mouthing or hiding freshmen. Some living groups even budget for fines as part of their rush budgets. It seems that the punitive actions of the IFC Judicial Committee are regularly being ignored. Because some living groups fail to learn the lessons of past sanctions, the IFC should explore other methods to ensure that the living groups do not repeatedly violate rush rulesŠ

In the final analysis, the success or failure of judicial systems will be determined by their ability to enforce rules and dispense justice in an efficient, open, and objective manner. Reasonable concerns notwithstanding, the IFC's judicial process seems to meet this standard and should serve as a model for student judicial self-governance.

Campus Police Must Warn Students

October 18

While the Campus Police lack the mandate or manpower to follow up robberies with a large-scale investigation, they can and should warn the MIT community about any specific threats to their safety, both on and off campus. However, the Campus Police failed miserably at this task in regard to the ATM robberies. It is possible that they put members of the MIT community further at risk because of their failure to communicate relevant information promptly.

In response to the first armed robbery of an MIT student at the Kendall Square ATM, the Campus Police ineffectually responded by sending out a year-old list of safety tips. Your awareness will help eliminate the opportunity of becoming a victim of a crime, the document read. The Campus Police made no attempt to increase the awareness of readers beyond a list of general safety tips. No mention was made of the reason for the bulletin, and no warning was provided about the suspect or the known locations of the robberiesŠ

The ATM robberies have made two things readily apparent. First, the Campus Police need to be much more effective in disseminating relevant, specific information about serious criminal activity, and second, safe, indoor ATMs must be made more convenient for student use.

UESA, MIT Need Another Smith

October 21

The imminent resignation of Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith will be greatly felt by the entire MIT community, particularly students. His intimate understanding of MIT and his unflinching faith in the abilities - both good and bad - of MIT students, together built an unspoken bond of trust between students and the Institute.

In Smith's own words, he was never one to manage students; rather, his philosophy centered around the belief that MIT students should take responsibility for their own lives and actions, that education from a skinned knee was preferable to being walked by the hand. A more noble philosophy of student affairs is difficult to imagineŠ

MIT is now challenged with finding another leader for an organization whose administrative reach extends from Residence and Orientation Week through Commencement. MIT will likely not undertake a search so important to undergraduate life until the selection of the next President. The provost, with a soon-to-be-appointed advisory group, will face the daunting task of finding an individual with the character and vision to set the direction of undergraduate life at the Institute for years to comeŠ

In the final analysis, MIT students should not expect a new dean for undergraduate education and student affairs to be another Art Smith. We can only hope for someone who shares his philosophy and can strive to meet his high standard of leadership and admirable commitment to students.

Housing Plan Deserves Student Input

November 1

The plans under consideration by an administration committee to renovate Senior House and East Campus into graduate dormitories raise several important questions about how the administration makes decisions that affect student lifeŠ

While Senior House and East Campus may fare poorly compared to other dormitories during dormitory rush, this should not be taken as a sign that there is no demand for housing on the east side of campus. Most residents are currently satisfied with living in these dormitories, and many would find moving to west campus to be a substantial hassle. The value of the east's unique undergraduate culture should also be taken into account.

Moreover, many residents certainly feel an emotional attachment to their current living arrangements - their friends, neighbors, halls, entries, and even rooms. Dormitories are more than just puzzle pieces to be expediently fit into some master plan, and their residents are more than just playing cards to be dealt out to various campus buildingsŠ

In general the administration needs to begin by making proposals, learn from and guide the discussion that will inevitably follow, and then make informed and advised decisions - in that order. Any attempt to reverse this order, to leave out parts of its sequence, or to squeeze the time allotted for discussion to a minimum can only result in anger, protest, and hurt feelings.

Kennedy Should Be Re-elected

November 8

This year marks Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's 32nd year in the U.S. Senate and his sixth bid for re-election. Kennedy's opponent, venture capitalist Mitt Romney, has challenged Kennedy for his seat on the grounds that, as a moderate Republican, he can better represent the interests of the Massachusetts electorate. However, given the stands the two candidates have taken on the defining issues of this year's campaign, we feel that voters should return Kennedy to the SenateŠ

On all of these issues - welfare, health care, the budget, and foreign policy - Sen. Kennedy has staked out the more realistic and reasonable turf. Job training, moderate health care reform, real deficit-cutting, and multilateral diplomacy are responsible positions. Romney's are not.

Massachusetts voters should also understand that no matter who they vote for, they will elect a candidate who does more than just state positions on issues. Most bills in the Senate are compromises that represent concessions on the part of many individuals. Many Republicans in Congress have rejected compromise measures and taken the road of filibuster and gridlock. Those senators so engaged feel that their constituents' interests are best served by their abstention from the process of legislation.

If re-elected senator, Ted Kennedy will continue to be at the heart of the legislative process, forming and shaping legislation to meet his constituent's concerns.

Weld's Successful Record Merits His Re-election

November 8

William Weld, a moderate Republican and one-term governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is currently seeking to retain his office. His challenger, Mark Roosevelt, is a representative in the General Court of the Commonwealth. While Roosevelt has an impressive legislative record for a man of his age, we feel that Weld's largely successful record as governor merits his re-electionŠ

While we support Weld for re-election we feel that Roosevelt deserves a special commendation for the manner in which he has run his campaign. Roosevelt has operated as an underdog, always overshadowed by Weld's towering lead in the polls. Unlike other candidates in his position, however, Roosevelt has not attempted the cynical, negative smear tactics often used to bring down an opponent's lead. Indeed, it is Weld who has used negative advertisements on Roosevelt, sometimes misrepresenting Roosevelt's position on crime and social issues.

Though we commend Roosevelt for his issues-oriented, positive campaign style, we feel that Weld's record as governor has proven that he can work with the legislature to effectively run the state's government. For this he deserves re-election.

Crime Bulletin Is A Notable Service

November 18

One month ago in this space, we faulted the Campus Police for failing to promptly and adequately communicate relevant information about crimes and safety to the MIT community. People need specific information rather than vague alerts or safety tips to protect themselves. Such specific information, we said, is necessary to protect members of the community from the otherwise nebulous perceptions of campus crime.

To help solve this problem, the Campus Police has taken a noteworthy step with the creation late last month of an electronic mailing list designed to keep members of the MIT community informed about crime on campus. The new list is an improvement and an important first step; however, it can only be one component of a larger community awareness systemŠ

The occasional failure to be aware of our surroundings is an unfortunate consequence of our busy lives as MIT students, faculty, and staff. The open and urban nature of our campus demand that we recognize the limits of the Campus and Cambridge Police to absolutely protect us from crime. The electronic bulletin is a good first step to increasing awareness and thus safety, but further methods need to be implemented before the job is complete.

SHPC Should Have Sought a Consensus

November 29

You don't do anything on this campus unless you build a consensus, said Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Robert M. Randolph. Randolph was talking about including student representation on an administration committee formulating plans to move undergraduates out of east campus dormitories.

Unfortunately, the workings of Randolph's Strategic Housing Planning Committee and the process that will determine the fate of the east-side dormitories seem to have been planned from the outset to avoid building any kind of a consensus.

Tomorrow, the SHPC is scheduled to make its recommendation about the future of Senior House to the senior administration. The timing could not have been better planned to stymie input from MIT students. In order for any renovations to be made at Senior House next summer, important decisions about the status of the dormitory will need to be made by the end of Independent Activities Period. This schedule severely limits input from graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, and alumni.

Given the short timeline one wonders how much time, if any, the administration would have allowed for community input had The Tech not broken the story about the plans four weeks ago. If the SHPC's activities had not gone public, would student groups have been allowed more than a meek protest after a decision had already been made?Š

If administrators had been more forthcoming earlier, and if they had cooperated fully with students in making their proposals, they would have found student input more useful. They might have even built a consensus. However, it would seem that the planning so far is still geared toward shutting off the student discussion at the very time it would be most beneficial.