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A Modest Proposal Eliminating Undergraduates Would Make Life at the Institute Much Easier

Veena Thomas

Maybe you’re feeling a bit down, wondering when MIT decided to turn against you by eliminating everything mentioned in their recruitment literature. Freshman pass/no record, choosing housing during a two-week party called R/O, and IAP convinced you to come here. Plus, you liked how MIT treated its students like adults. But now you’re feeling betrayed by the very same administration which is supposed to be there on your behalf. Maybe you’re tired of fighting one thing after another. Perhaps you’re just waiting for an accidentally released e-mail announcing the elimination of IAP.

But look at it from the flip side, the administration’s point of view. The poor administration tries very hard to pass new policies to make their lives, er, students’ lives, easier and happier. But are students grateful? Of course not. They keep running amuck and giving MIT a bad reputation in the press. They demand that their voices be heard on policy changes affecting them. Think of how many more changes could have been made if protesting students didn’t constantly get in the way! They keep insisting on thinking for ourselves -- how annoying.

Clearly, there’s only one solution. MIT would be a better place without students.

Of course, acceptance letters have already been mailed to many potential members of the Class of 2005. But by having next year’s freshmen be the last class ever admitted, MIT will go a long way towards its goal of reshaping the undergraduate experience -- namely, by eliminating it.

Think of all the problems this would solve. For one, the oft-debated 2002 “all freshmen on campus” edict would be changed to the “no freshmen on campus” decision. MIT would no longer face the housing shortage that would occur from moving all freshmen into dorms. Instead, each dorm would be one-quarter empty. Plenty of room to house those residential coordinators! Plus, Simmons Hall could be used to house graduate students instead of freshmen, solving the graduate housing shortage.

Administrators could focus on getting their job done -- creating new policies -- and could breathe easier knowing no students would protest against them. Indeed, administrators wouldn’t have to waste any of their precious time involving students in the planning process from the very beginning. Any decision they could possibly make could be implemented immediately without student concerns to worry about. Administrators would actually be justifying in ignoring student concerns; without students, there wouldn’t be any concerns.

Obviously, MIT will go to great lengths to protect its reputation. While MIT wants recognition for its research and discoveries, undergraduates garner more press and notoriety with their shenanigans. Instead of passing policy after policy to keep students in line, passing just one -- eliminating students -- would ensure that MIT would enjoy a reputation in the media unsullied by the antics of its younger members. No more columns slamming the administration in The Tech. Heck, The Tech wouldn’t even exist. The administration can pat themselves on the back all they want in Tech Talk instead.

The job of the campus police would also be easier. No more parties to break up, and no more dealing with drunk students. Just think: no more errant police cars placed upon the Dome, and no more Commencements disrupted by Buzzword Bingo! This would even help out the MIT Museum -- no more hacks that they lack the space to archive.

As wonderful as this policy might seem, it does have its downside. MIT would stand to lose a large source of income, its tuition. Money will become increasingly important as MIT shifts its focus entirely to research. But fret not. Alumni donations can be a particularly useful source of income, as the recent donations of hundreds of millions of dollars have shown. If the last batch of undergraduates graduates in 2005, at age 21, they still have around 50 years of donating time left. Perfect for the Institute. Of course, MIT would have to rely heavily on corporate donations, but the Media Lab shows this is indeed possible.

In addition, MIT would actually save some money. By eliminating students, MIT would rid itself of potential lawsuits from families of students dying under questionable circumstances. This would save MIT a couple of million at least.

It has become increasingly clear that MIT is first and foremost a research institute. But a lack of students would slow research progress. Where else would MIT find extremely talented people willing assist research for eight dollars an hour? MIT might have to invest a little more money in salaries to ensure that research continues unimpeded.

MIT could bring in some revenue and help the Cambridge housing shortage by renting out rooms in the soon-to-be-empty dorms. River views, and the chance to live in a dorm designed by a famous architect; that’s got to be worth some money. Would people willingly move into dorms with ant and mouse problems? It would take a little work to clean up the dorms to make them suitable for real people to live in. In addition, real adults, not just students over the legal age of 18, might have a problem with Big Brother living next door. Those residential coordinators have to live somewhere, though.

Eliminating students is crazy, you say? Didn’t you see it coming? Don’t protest this one; you’ll only prove their point that students cause too much trouble. It’s actually a very good idea -- the administration says so -- and there’s nothing you can do about it.