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LETTER

The Need to Know

I am writing in response to the story appearing in the Arts section of the February 24 issue of The Tech entitled “What a Difference a Year Makes,” by an anonymous author.

To say that I am extremely concerned about this would be a gross understatement -- not only because it is horrifying to think that a member of this community could be the victim of such a heinous act, but because the author indicated a lack of support from those of us who are here to help our students, faculty, and staff. Upon reading the article, I immediately did a thorough search of MIT Police and Cambridge Police records, and consulted with medical and other colleagues within and outside MIT. This search found no incident of a type even close to that described in the article.

I mention this not as a defensive measure, but to emphasize that if the Campus Police are to provide assistance and support we have to be aware of such incidents when they occur. Had this department been made aware of this situation, I can assure the author of this article that we would have put all the considerable resources and expertise of the department to bear on apprehending the perpetrators. And we would have done so with the concern, care, and respect for privacy that one would expect from a professional police department

In almost thirty years in policing, I can think of few other situations that are as troubling to me as this one. And it is all the more unfortunate to think that those of us at MIT who are charged with the care of our community were unable to fulfill this responsibility, not due to inability but because we were not notified.

If you find yourself in danger or, worse, become a victim of a violent or other crime, please contact the MIT Police as soon as you can -- at 253-1212. And if you are a witness to a crime or a suspicious situation, please call us too -- any time, day or night.

John DiFava

Director of Security and Police Services


[LTE]The In-Your-Face Ugliness of Stata[body]
An article in the March 7 edition of The Boston Globe entitled “Monumental Effort” [http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2004/03/07/monumental_effort/], has goaded me to finally write about a subject over which I have been stewing for at least a year: the new Stata Center building’s architecture.
The Stata Center is the most horrendously ugly building erected by MIT in its entire history. It’s ugliness is apparent to all viewers -- except, apparently, MIT’s own architecture academicians. I am not alone in holding this opinion; all of my MIT alum friends who have seen the building have expressed to me their own disgust at the building’s design. Our general consensus is that the building looks like the rubble strewn around by a larger building’s collapse.
Of course, MIT has a long tradition of ugly architecture, starting in the 1960s. Amongst the styles of ugly architecture on display at MIT are “bland corporate back-office” (McCormick Hall), “scrap metal as sculpture” (Transparent Horizons), “cold and trendy Euro-modernism” (the Waffle Building), “windowless brick box” (several of the newer West Campus dormitories), and “bomb-shelter brutalism” (Building 66). None of these edifices, however, come close to the aggressive, in-your-face ugliness of the Stata Center. The Stata Center’s ugliness can only be compared to some horrible, disfiguring war wound on an unfortunate veteran who insists upon angrily waving it in your face again and again in order to vent his rage about his calamity.
As an alum, the appalling ugliness is made even more obscene by the more than 100 percent cost overrun over original budget estimates. In the commercial world, a team which approved 100 percent cost overruns on such a monstrous project would likely find themselves looking for new employment if they couldn’t provide detailed, credible, and thoughtful justifications for their decisions. I suggest that MIT should, at the very least, appoint a body to investigate and reform the decision-making process behind choosing Gehry as the architect and then approving the design without considering the likely cost.
Perhaps now is the time for MIT to do some soul-searching about its new building policy. I suggest that rather than continually trying to make architectural “statements,” MIT’s building committees should concentrate more upon providing decent, cost-effective infrastructure for research and education -- its primary missions. Until MIT makes structural changes suggesting that it has rethought its building policy, I will not be interested in hearing pleas from the development office for any more donations -- I see no reason to provide money to fund such extravagantly ugly projects.
Stuart Brorson PhD ’90[sig]