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This Season, Show You Care by Dropping

Column by A. Arif Husain
Associate News Editor

As we enter the holiday season, it's that time of year again during which even the most hardened characters start to express their goodwill. Houses are decorated, trees lighted, and the air permeated by the sound and aroma of feast and merriment. Walker Memorial starts offering turkey dinners and LaVerde's Market releases its new line of obnoxiously-colored cookies. Many people look forward to the holiday season. But for the impoverished and homeless, the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas must be a godsend, for this time of year offers a cornucopia of guilt-driven handouts from the well-to-do.

Then there are those who prefer to commiserate rather than assist -- people determined to experience a taste of poverty, just to appreciate the suffering. Like Wednesday's Hunger Banquet, for example, which was advertised to offer famine-sized portions to students eager to become "aware." I for one strongly support these pioneers of sainthood. I am certain that victims of undernourishment all over the world will rest easier with the knowledge that a gang of college students skimped on dinner one night. Now that's giving.

And so the story goes on, extending beyond the holidays. From famine to cancer to child abuse, the causes are many, and the volunteers equally matched. All year round there are hordes of people who take to Memorial Drive to piddle around in the name of some worthy cause. Rather than spend time actually advancing a cause, they gather funding by getting sponsored to do something entirely unrelated -- and typically unproductive. But don't misunderstand me; I don't mean to fault them. Don't we all feel more fulfilled donating to a personal charity when we know that we have a pledgee somewhere working up a sweat? If you want the dough, let's see the show, as they say.

Amid this air of altruism evoked by the falling leaves, I, too, would like to encourage every good person among us to take the time to consider the less fortunate. As MIT students, we are especially lucky to be at the receiving end of one of the world's finest educational facilities. Millions of young people our age lack the resources and opportunities necessary to engage in serious study beyond high school. Instead, they either merge into the work force or remain mired in the mindless bliss of state schools, whittling away their time on frivolities like successful sports teams and socialization.

How can we be complacent, wrapped up in our selfish world of knowledge and self-enrichment, while so many waste away their lives at our expense? Obviously we cannot. Thus it gives me great pleasure to propose the first annual Institute-wide Drop-a-thon.

On this glorious drop date of 1995, I encourage each of you to relieve yourself of spare units for the sake of the less fortunate. Be it 9 or 12 or 24, every unit counts. Make the drop form your manifesto of change. Have a collection. Get pledges -- at least $1 per unit. Your contributions will be used by us to sponsor more equally charitable programs.

Drop in the name of goodwill. Drop in the name of justice. Drop in the name of charity. Drop until it hurts, and then drop some more. We have such a full course load, while others have so little. Take this time to visit the Registrar's Office and show them that you care. Show them that as a concerned student you are willing to put aside your own selfish goals for a worthy cause. You only have until 5 p.m., so act fast.

Once all forms have been submitted, each Committee on Academic Performance-fearing drop-a-thonner may then join a procession that will make rounds through all four revolving doors of the Green Building -- symbolizing our passage through four years of undergraduate greed. We will then congregate in Killian Court where, in a candlelight vigil, we will commence our charitable program with the burning of textbooks -- a luxury of education far too often taken for granted. Spectators are welcome, but please bring a donation. Any freshman text will do.

A. Arif Husain is a junior majoring in cognitive science. He wonders if his opinions will impress medical school admissions officers.