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Preserve Housing Choices

The editorial that appeared in a recent issue of The Tech ["Flawed Process, Questionable Proposals," Oct. 6] contained a number of rather surprising inaccuracies. First, the editorial states that there was a "call for a mandatory freshman research program or required participation in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program during the first year." The report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning does not call for any mandatory undergraduate research, certainly not for the freshman year. The report does set the goal of eventually "involving 100 percent of undergraduates in research experiences sometime during their four years here," but setting a goal and creating programs to fulfill it is quite different from instituting requirements.

Second, the editorial states that "topics such as dining and on-campus freshman housing were pointed out by the administration as loose ends and were subsequently written into the report." This is also not true: The report's section on dining was written earlier in the year and was never changed at any administrator's suggestion. In fact, the dining and housing recommendations are almost word-for-word replicas of The Tech's own editorials in the recent past. The Tech's Oct. 17, 1997 editorial, "Paving the Way for Radical Change," stated that "housing all freshman on campus will integrate freshmen into the larger MIT community and provide students with more time to make informed choices about where they want to live." The Tech has also called for the reopening of dormitory dining halls as a way of fostering community, which is exactly the intent of the task force's dining recommendation. To turn around and label these notions "administration ideas" is not only disingenuous, it is counterproductive.

How can students like us be effective? Surely not by denouncing the fellow students and faculty members who are now working to make the educational triad a reality by bringing about change in faculty recognition, campus planning, UROP, and the curriculum. The administration has already acted to bring freshman into dorms. Students can help make sure the administration and faculty follow through on other recommendations that are just as threatening to many in the faculty as the freshman housing decision was to many students.

Indeed, the greatest inaccuracy of The Tech's recent editorial was its statement that the task force's work was essentially "bowing to the administration agenda." As a student member of the task force, I have been pleased to find that the bulk of its 66 pages reflect the agenda of the four students who served on the task force and the roughly two dozen members of the group's student advisory committee. The educational triad, which was the report's central theme, came from students, and all of the report's recommendations were designed to support the triad concept. If the administration wants to hear these recommendations, I for one will be glad.

Luis A. Ortiz G

Member, Task Force on Student Life and Learning