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Missing Class Should Not Be Academic Suicide

Your article on MIT's flu outbreak ["Flu Outbreak Strikes MIT, Thriving in Crowded Conditions," Dec. 3] highlights a serious concern I've had for a while about the pace and pressure of MIT students' workloads. The article mentioned the effects of being ill on students' work, with one student mentioning that he had found it difficult to catch up after having been behind for two lectures. That student is not alone.

Sometimes unexpected things happen, like illness or tragedy, that force students to miss class. People shouldn't have to be behind for days or weeks because they had to miss a few classes. The pace is simply too intense.

There are some who might disagree with me, pointing to the extraordinary amount of technical expertise some students have when they graduate. But having students get seriously behind after a few days of absence is not an appropriate college experience. And a lot of students seem to have little time for very much other than their classwork anyway. A student you quoted was even worried about having gotten behind over Thanksgiving break.

MIT's extreme academic pressure undermines our educational mission in the end. The school where it's difficult to catch up after missing a few days is not the MIT where students learn how to serve society as educated adults. It's MIT the cog factory, where students learn that a part that doesn't work simply needs to be replaced.

Jeremy D. Sher '99