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New Mental Health Services Announced

MIT Mental Health Services recently began a new program called “Talk to Us” as a part of an $838,000 mental health plan.

In this program, students are able to speak with a senior mental health staff member for 15 to 20 minutes on the same day that they call for help. In addition, students will be given an appointment with a clinician within a week of their initial phone call.

Talk to Us is one of many changes that were recommended by the Mental Health Task Force five months ago. Other changes include hiring four new mental health clinicians and improving the image of Mental Health Services on campus.

“My impression is that people are finding it helpful early on. Someone gets back to them later that day, gets some basic information about what kind of problem and what kind of services might be necessary,” said MIT Medical Director Dr. William M. Kettyle of the Talk to Us program.

Bradley T. Ito ’02, a member of the Mental Health Task Force, said that the new changes were “good”, but not all of the task force recommendations have been put into place.

“The services are showing a genuine effort to help improve things. ... There’s still more work to be done,” he said.

--Christine R. Fry

Few Details Known In Tech Investigations

Almost four months after The Tech first learned of irregularities in its credit card merchant transactions, little is publicly known from the continuing investigations into the apparent theft of tens of thousands of dollars from the organization’s since-closed outside bank accounts.

Members of the organization’s managing board gave a preliminary figure of $50,000 for the amount of money thought to have been taken by way of a refund feature of the group’s credit-card point-of-sale terminal. The Tech’s annual operating budget is approximately $400,000.

The Campus Police and an investigatory committee created at a February meeting of The Tech’s managing board are the two bodies at MIT conducting investigations of the loss, said Tracy F. Purinton, the assistant dean for student activities.

Declining to comment on disciplinary matters, Assistant Dean Carol Orme-Johnson said, “There may be some criminal charges if the thief is identified.” Orme-Johnson said she did not know whether either investigation had any suspects in the case.

Those involved with both investigations have been unwilling to discuss their progress, causing some members of The Tech’s managing board to express frustration with the pace of the inquiries.

The investigatory committee, consisting of three editors and the organization’s newly elected chairman, Rima A. Arnaout ’02, defended its practices. Recovering the stolen money is “one of our goals,” said Sandra M. Chung ’04, an arts editor and member of the committee.

“Releasing any information has the potential to compromise the investigation,” Chung said. “We’re not going to go case by case ... to evaluate, [for] every piece of evidence, whether it would hurt the investigation.”

Business Manager Rachel R. Johnson ’02 said that in addition to the theft, The Tech’s “financial troubles are also [because] we didn’t make as much last year, because Sept. 11 was right before the career fair, and we get a good fourth of our revenue on those two issues.”

--Keith J. Winstein

Inventor Kamen Wins Lemelson-MIT

Dean Kamen, founder of the national nonprofit organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) and inventor of the Segway Human Transporter, has received the world’s largest award for invention. He plans to donate all of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize to his brainchild, FIRST.

“I can’t think of a more deserving innovator to celebrate. He is a true role model for young people,” said MIT Professor Merton C. Flemings of material science and engineering to the MIT News Office.

The Lemelson-MIT Program was founded in 1994 by Jerome H. Lemelson to encourage invention and innovation among young people.

Ruth Rogran Benerito, who won the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award, invented wash-and-wear fabric. She also encourages innovation in young people, saying she spent much of her career teaching “for education’s sake.”

--Richa Maheshwari