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Logic and Perception In Guy Tragedy

In Friday’s Tech, Greg Donaldson ’00 discusses what he sees as “holes” in John Muir Kumph’s letter, published last Tuesday. Unfortunately, Donaldson seems to have somewhat missed Kumph’s point. In the letter, Kumph speaks of larger-scale perceptions, political shifts and morals. Donaldson speaks about logical reasons, cause-and-effect relationships and direct consequences.

Donaldson is completely correct in saying that Ruiz and Mosher -- and no one else --were taking a risk if the drugs found in their room did in fact belong to them (a point which I must stress has not yet been proven in a court of law). He is completely correct in saying that only Richard Guy is to blame for arranging and executing his own death, whether it was intentional or accidental. These are statements based on pure logic, but the problem is that in our society, things are never viewed from a logical standpoint.

This is what Kumph tried to address. Though we might despise it, when people read about this in the Boston Herald under the gigantic “MIT Cops Find Drug Den” headline, they put the blame on the drugs, on MIT for not controlling the drugs, and on Ruiz and Mosher for allegedly having the drugs. Kumph points out that it is this perspective that really matters. MIT doesn’t have the balls to say to the public that we need to teach students about the dangers of drugs so that they will not use them unsafely.

Instead, MIT chose to say that it would crack down on drug use and expand the investigation of drug use at MIT. The only thing this accomplishes is to make it even harder for those people who choose to use drugs -- including alcohol -- to do so safely. Consider MIT’s new alcohol policy, which may bring sanctions against innocent people if those people request medical attention to save someone’s life. This is sick. It is disgusting that MIT values policy and political stance over saving a human life.

Above all else, MIT needs to recognize that people are going to take risks with their lives. This is a simple aspect of human nature that no amount of legislation will alter. MIT needs to provide information and education to minimize that risk. MIT must not create rules that stand in the way of safety.

Encouragingly, someone seems to have had enough initiative to take matters into their own hands: recently a large number of crudely-xeroxed booklets entitled “DAMIT -- Drugs At MIT” were anonymously circulated around campus. These booklets gave information on how to use drugs safely instead of preaching about the “evils” of drug use. It is revolting that such a thing had to be done anonymously and clandestinely -- presumably since the authors feared repercussions -- and that MIT has never done such a thing itself.

Donaldson ends with, “In the future, let’s hold people accountable for their actions.” I wish that today’s society shared that view.

Aneel Nazareth ’98