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UROP Comments Unjustified

Regarding Robert Ragno’s piece “UROP Troubling” in the October 9th issue, I am frankly appalled. First of all, I have no deep feelings regarding the UROP program either way, and though I do not agree with his opinion, his opinion is not what bothers me. It is the absolute garbage with which he backs up his claim that does.

His first qualm is that the students are being exploited by the Institute by not being paid their worth. He then says that they are nothing but inexperienced children. Neither of these contradictory statements are justifiable. I find it hard to believe that hiring students is making it difficult for practitioners in an industry that is facing a shortage of talent on the order of 300,000 unfillable positions in the next several years. And if indeed these jobs are so meaningless, then why is it not wrong to inflict these tasks on better educated professionals? There are less than one million total professionals who are currently unemployed in the United States. Of this million, those working in IT are only a small fraction. I understand the vague nature of his wording, but he was wrong by several orders of magnitude.

Further, Ragno should not begrudge this unique chance for many students to earn the money off which they live because it conflicts with his convoluted sense of intellectual morality. Also, the UROP minimum wage of $8.00 per hour is far beyond what the average college-age American is paid in any job.

From my experience with the UROP program, I find that the programs often help the student more than vice versa. I applaud the professors who make such an effort to provide these experiences for the student. The hands-on experience is invaluable, and if the professor happens to gain in the process, then all sides gain. This is how it works in a free society. UROP is not even compulsory. Such outrage is completely unjustifiable.

I personally find Ragno’s comments highly offensive and demeaning to undergraduates, as well as to the informed reader who should not tolerate blatant misinformation.

Benjamin Ho ’00