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Funding Staff Shortfalls Doom HowToGAMIT

By Venkatesh Satish
Associate news editor

Due to a lack of funding and staff support, the How To Get Around MIT guide for freshmen was not published this summer and may never be printed again.

"Basically, it's dead," said Traci L. Williams '95, a former editor of the guide to student life and culture and MIT lore. "Right now, no one wants to write it."

The Technology Community Association, which oversees the production of HowToGAMIT, does not have the funds to cover the publishing costs, Williams said.

One problem in funding the guide is the cost associated with providing free copies to incoming freshmen, said TCA President Ameet Singh '96.

HowToGAMIT generates revenue through sales of both the individual guides and advertising, Singh said. This money is used to pay an outside publisher to print the guide.

TCA did not obtain sufficient money from advertisements to offset the cost of the free copies, Singh said.

Editor expresses disappointment

"I'm sad to see it go away given the time and effort put into it previously," Williams said.

HowToGAMIT has had problems recruiting staff members in the past, she said.

Two years ago, the guide was in danger of folding, but was saved when an electronic mail request for help by Williams received a significant response. The e-mail succeeded in recruiting about 20 people for the fall 1994 edition.

However, when Williams solicited help in publishing the guide at the end of last spring, she did not receive such a response. "No one has shown any desire to work," for this year's guide, Williams said.

"It's depressing to know that the last two years have been such a struggle," Williams said.

"I think [the guide] provided a way to organize all the information that seemed relevant about the campus.... It was a great resource.".

Apparently, there was little response to the guide's cancellation, Williams said. "I haven't noticed any big outcry." She received comments expressing that the guide was a useful reference, but "no one said that they couldn't survive freshman year without it."

Guide may go online

HowToGAMIT might be placed on the World-Wide Web, Singh said.

The guide "would be easy to maintain, and there would be no cost in doing so," he said. "It would be very simple to update."

Despite the lower costs of a Web page, TCA may still want to print the guide. "Not everybody uses the Internet," and a printed version may be more accessible, Singh said.

TCA's debt has decreased from approximately $10,000 two years ago to about $2,000, Singh said. This may allow the funds necessary to resume the publishing of the guide.

"We are trying to recruit new members, and if there are people out there who are interested in continuing this project, we could very well do it for next year."

The shortage of enthusiasm and support for HowToGAMIT still remains a problem, however. "We need a lot more manpower to keep it updated so that it is actually a useful product,"Singh said.