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Students Use Orange Ribbons to Wage Silent Protest

Wan Yusof Wan Morshidi -- The Tech
Erik Nygren G, Nicholas Ingolia '00 and Edmund Golaski '99 hand out orange ribbons to passing students in order to voice disapproval of the MIT administration's recent decisions.
By Kevin Lang

Responding to issues including freshman housing choice and confidential medical transport, a group of students under the banner "ILTFP," or "I Love This F***ing Place," started an orange ribbon campaign last week in an effort to raise awareness among students, faculty, and administrators.

"With the recent trend towards uniform, bland housing, and the clamp-down a few years ago on parties, MITstudents are losing opportunities to make choices and take responsibility for their actions," said the group's web site.

Carolyn D. Jones '00, one of ILTFP's coordinators, said that the ribbons are meant to raise awareness on such issues as on-campus freshman housing, the potential demise of dormitory rush, and other matters of trust and responsibility between students and administrators.

However, Jeremy H. Brown G, another coordinator, hopes that the ribbons will result in more than awareness. "Ideally, upon such re-examination, the administration would reverse foolish trends, such as the headlong rush to eliminate freshman housing choice," he said.

Future administrative policies should reflect the treatment of MIT students as "responsible, capable adults," Brown said.

Another major concern of the group is the administration's "failure to make a decision on confidential medical transport." Currently, medical transports are reported in the campus police log, although names are not given.

Jones said that over 800 ribbons were distributed from the Student Center and Lobby 10 last week. More ribbons are being ordered for the coming weeks, since the initial supply was exhausted, he said.

Responses not all positive

Some students had negative reactions to the campaign. Sonia Garg '02 felt annoyed by repeated e-mail pushing the campaign. "Someone handed [a ribbon] to me, so Itook it, but I didn't really put it anywhere," Garg said. The presence of ribbons around campus was not that noticeable, she said.

However, another freshman, Angell C. Shieh '02, thought the ribbon campaign was a good means of unifying the student body. "I don't know if Itotally agree with everything," he said.

"I agree with some parts of President Vest's arguments," Shieh said. He also indicated that he had seen a number of students displaying ribbons, though he did not have one himself.

Each ribbon was distributed with a card explaining the ribbon's significance. The group is concerned that MITmight lose its uniqueness as student freedoms become more limited, the cards say.

"At this rate, MITseems destined to become some horrific collage of every other university: bland, homogenized, and second rate," the card indicates. The ribbon "stands for our anger at administrative condescension toward MIT's students, and our anger at administrative shortsightedness in leading MIT as a whole".

However, Jones said that students were not alone in supporting the ribbon's message. "One member of the MIT Corporation stopped by the booth on Friday. He took a ribbon, saying it was important to stir up the student body and decrease apathy," Jones said.