Extropians Fail to See The Scope of Intelligence
MIT Is About More Than Intellectual Purity
Viewing MIT through the lens of the World Wide Web may not be very accurate, but is can be amusing. The link on The Tech's Web page today led me to the web page of the MIT Extropians and their somewhat accurate but misguided information.
I think one of the first things we can assume is the attention that the Association of Student Activities has given them through their actions only plays into the hand of the Extropians. Your average incoming freshman doesn't even have time to read all the information from MIT before they arrive on campus.
The coverage of these issues in The Tech will serve only to bring every incoming freshman's attention to their words and ideas. Some of the advice that the Extropians offer is valid. Rush can be an awful experience. Fraternities make choices about candidates for mostly the wrong reasons. Taking more difficult courses your freshman year is a good idea, if only to get them over with under pass/no record. MIT has a problem with their lack of undergraduate housing for all.
The Extropians' most misguided view, and the one that obviously has gotten them into trouble with the MIT administration, is the one on the admission of women and minorities to MIT. The world is a diverse place, and for this reason MIT needs to be diverse as well. MIT must admit students to keep a balance between the departments; an MIT with 75 percent electrical engineering and computer science majors would be a pretty awful place.
This may mean that qualified white male applicants will be passed over for qualified minorities and qualified women. And just because women enroll more in departments other than EECS doesn't mean they are shunning EECS because they can't handle it. Perhaps it's the attitude of the other EECS majors.
I distinctly remember a very attractive MIT woman who I carpooled with to a summer internship. She spoke of having to go to the EECS computer and electronics labs (6.001 and 6.004) late at night when they were not crowded or staffed with graduate tutors. Otherwise, she found herself constantly getting unneeded "help" from the graduate tutors and other students. She had to be an extremely motivated individual to tolerate this behavior and not change majors to one in which this kind of behavior would not happen.
The world after MIT is not a place where sheer brains and intellectual purity pays great dividends. Hard work and knowing the right people is just as important. The ability to interact with your peers on all levels and the ability to make friends with people of all backgrounds is critical. And the joys of life are not all cerebral.
MIT is trying to prepare you for this. And I would reaffirm to the entering class of 2001 that you are here because you belong. Make the most of it. These are the best years of your lives.
Andrew Gerber '87
[The writer is a former managing editor of The Tech.]