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Letters to the Editor

Name Recognition 
Doesn’t Equal Culture


“Smart vs. Art” by Krishna Gupta [Oct 14, 2005] strongly expresses the faulty stereotype the world has of the MIT community. This is a place with a focus on math and science, but Gupta has failed to explore MIT’s diversity and culture.

Being cultured does not mean one has to sit and discuss politics over fine wine and cheese; it is more important to develop an awareness and understanding of the world.

The atmosphere at MIT is different from at other colleges such as Harvard and Yale. The Institute has a different mission. MIT prides itself in its commitment to research and improving this world. Thriving in this environment is a community of students dedicated to this goal. It is foolish to say that our vision is of lesser importance than that of another school because of a lower recognition factor.

The HASS requirement on campus is not the most effective at promoting the study of humanities, but it is unfair to dismiss the successfulness of the School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences. Although the school is the second smallest on campus, its faculty include some of the most established figures in those fields.

Both the SHASS and student groups promote awareness in the humanities outside academics. The Office of the Arts offers tickets to arts events in the area and funds art events on campus. MIT has also supported the emerging media arts form, a genre blending science, technology, and fine arts; the List Visual Arts Center arguably has some of the most valuable pieces in this genre. Student groups regularly invite performance groups and guest speakers to campus. More can be done, but it is unfair to say that administration and students play little or no role in promoting the development of interests beyond math and science.

Math and science are certainly not the solution to everything; a society cannot function on science alone. Feelings, artistic expressions, and philosophies can never be proven with equations. Any student with an adequate and responsible science education, such as that offered by MIT, can understand this. I have had the most insightful conversations with my classmates on topics such as politics, music, theater, books and even fashion. The gold mine is here; it is just waiting for you to explore it.

Tania R. Chan ’07