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Students Protest Tuition Hike, Revive Traditional Annual Riot


Wan Yusof Wan Morshidi--The Tech
President Charles M. Vest briefly left his office to join Monday's Spontaneous Tuition Riot.

By Dan McGuire
Editor In Chief

A motley group of about 40 students braved drenching rains to revive the traditional annual Tuition Riot. Students were protesting MIT's decision to increase tuition to $24,050 in the next academic year, a 4.1 percent or $950 increase from last year.

"In the time of classes before us the Tuition Riot was a vital instrument in our forerunners' efforts to prevent their wallets from being drained this invaluable tradition should not be allowed to fall," said a pamphlet publicizing the riot.

The group's route took them down the Infinite Corridor and to the second floor of Building 3, where they paused in front of the President's and Provost's offices in 3-208. The clarinet, trumpet, and cymbals accompanying the group roused President Charles M. Vest, Provost Joel Moses PhD '67, and Secretary of the Corporation Kathryn A. Willmore from their offices.

Vest was amused. "You didn't want the cut in self-help? Is that what this is about?" he asked. The protesters presented a list of demands to the administrators, including eliminating the $950 tuition hike. Students also said that if the increase had to go through, the additional funds should be used to increase financing for student activities.

Tuition increase is relatively small

The tuition increase this year was one of the smaller in recent years, and was accompanied by a $1,000 drop to $7,600 as the minimum self-help level, which is the amount students are expected to provide through work, loans, or savings. The overall "term bill", which includes tuition, room, and board, will be $30,800, a 3.9 percent increase, from last year. This is smallest percentage increase since 1970.

The group's pamphlet praised the people who "allowed us to protest only a 4.1 percent increase instead of the completely intolerable figures that otherwise would have been forced down our throats."

Susan E. Born '98, who printed the pamphlets, criticized the drop in self-help levels. "It looks an awful lot like they're trying to split the student body," she said. The pamphlet called it a "wedge driven between the proletariat and the bourgeoise, to co-opt half the student body, to seduce the neediest away from our glorious Cause."

"It's part serious and it's part joking," said one student participating in the Riot. "It's a tradition."

"Some of us are seniors," Born said. "We haven't seen a riot since freshman year if you go for years without doing it," you forget how to do it, she said.

"We start when they do a small tuition rise, to train the freshmen" how to react to future, larger increases, Born said.

Participants seemed to enjoy the Riot. "[I'm here] to protest the petition, but really just for the hell of it," said Kailas N. Narendran '01. Otherwise, "I was going to do 18.03," he said.

The rain did not seem to dampen spirits. One student called it "good rioting weather," noting that "rain breeds discontent."