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Other Than the Food, Why Be Worried?

Column by A. Arif Husain
Staff Reporter

As we bask in the warmth of a new spring (in theory at least), we are driven to look forward to a brighter future and to take with us the jewels of experience. Traditionally, this time of year caters to the wistful ramblings of graduating seniors who, with one arm in the esteemed jacket of an MIT degree, feel obliged to toss in their enlightened two cents.

Well I am not a senior, and I don't play one on TV, but nonetheless here is my humble advice to the governing bodies of this great land of nerd-dom on life, liberty, and the pursuit of student satisfaction.

Let's start from the bottom: first we have to eat. The issue of campus dining has been on the administrative menu (excuse the pun) for much too long. Lobdell, Networks, and Walker just aren't filling the ticket. Worse, Baker and Next House dining halls are crumbling like a muffin from LaVerde's, and ARA has been squirming under the pressure. After the Institute figured out the old "let's change our name to Aramark and maybe they'll forget they don't like us" ploy, Aramark has been counting its days. The issue of whether the servers or the service is the problem is yet unresolved. Personally, I would welcome a change. Something is rotten in the state of Aramark, and I am here to direct it.

To make it simple, there just isn't any place that's both convenient and affordable. Unfortunately there are no "Stafford Meal Loans", so MIT needs to find a company that can bring down the prices. Moreover, students are lacking a common ground. We need a company that can muster up enough interest in the student body to fill a dormitory dining hall without slapping us with a meal plan mandate. In other words, they've got to have desirability. The skeptical among us would call this a futile endeavor. But the answer is so clear it's invisible.

At this very moment, there is a place on campus that provides decent food for low-end prices. Service is unbelievably quick, and it's not for nothing since the number of people they attract each afternoon is equally awe inspiring. Yes, that great bastion of Styrofoam-packaged cuisine: Goosebeary's will be our messiah.

I have a vision of a brighter, more truck-oriented campus. From Sloan School to Tang Hall, the truck will be the new symbol of the modern age. What's more, not only can those Goosebeary's miracle-workers take charge of a failing system, but by nature they are equipped to meet the criteria of re-engineering since they can combine the roles of the Department of Housing and Food Services and A Safe Ride. What better than a food truck to fill the role of eating on the go. Perhaps MIT can work out a deal with the MBTA. The possibilities are endless.

While I'm on the topic of re-engineering, I have another suggestion - slightly off the topic. If the Undergraduate Association wants to be successful, perhaps they should try associating with the undergraduates. Does anyone really know what the UA does? Why don't they throw a "Get to Know Your Government" bash? Goosebeary's can cater.

Okay, back to work: The MIT Card. What is it about this place that makes people so damn paranoid? Sure, so the card is a security risk. The Institute will know that you leave your dorm every morning and return each evening. The horror, the horror! You could always stop off at every card reader on your way to class to swipe some confusion into your file, but be careful. Every time you slide your card through a reader, you are really sliding it through every reader that every other card that has contacted that reader has been through. It's confusing, you might want to contact the Medical Department for an informative brochure.

Seriously, don't you know that your phones are tapped and your room is bugged anyway. Drop that false sense of security. Look around you. Are you sure you didn't hear two clicks when you flipped that light switch? Ever looked closely into your bathroom mirror? There are guys wearing drab suits in Washington that know more about your social habits than Madonna does about hair dyeing. So sit back, relax, and try not to floss too loudly. I've heard that throws off the microphones.

Oh, I forgot about the meal plan angle. There have been complaints that giving the MIT card as collateral opens up the risk of monetary loss. Not to worry: Goosebeary's only takes cash.

Lastly, we as undergrads now face intermediate grades, internal as they may be. For the most part, I don't have a problem with this. The grades are supposed to be informative, without being burdensome; a sort of virtual grading scheme. What a great idea! But why restrict this convention to just grades? I propose that MIT offer a virtual matriculation plan - to help students decide if they really should be in college. All courses will be unlisted and all credits will be non-transferable. After four years, virtual graduates can be honored with an internal degree. This will reduce the stress of college life while offering students the opportunity to determine the personal implications of an MIT degree. Jobs you ask? I hear Goosebeary's is hiring.

A. Arif Husain, a sophomore in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, is beginning to wonder if electric shock treatment really is part of a normal UROP application.