Letters to the Editor
A Dissonant TraditionGranted, a piano frozen in midair might look interesting as a front page photo in The Tech. Sure, the drop is “a long-lost MIT tradition [that has returned] in style from a seven-year hiatus to celebrate Drop Date and remind students to drop their classes” as described on the Baker House Web site at http://baker.mit.edu/piano/. However, I strongly disagree that an old piano “is only barely deserving of the name.” Publicly destroying a sacred instrument as a ritual is an inconsiderate, childish, and disgraceful act that reflects poorly on Baker House and the MIT community as a whole.
Dropping a piano is disrespectful, as pianos carry a sentimental value for many individuals. Many MIT students have played the piano at some point in their lives, and a fair number are still involved in music programs. Watching a piano drop does not “bring joy into [their] hearts.” Just because an instrument is old and arguably useless does not mean that it deserves to be ruthlessly pushed down a building.
I grew up in a family where money was tight, and there was no way my parents could have afforded piano lessons for me. Yet I was given the opportunity to learn because of someone who donated a huge beat-up piano. Although the piece of “junk” was out of tune by almost a half-step, missing several keys, and practically falling apart, I still practiced on it for almost five years. Buying and destroying a piano that might otherwise give someone an opportunity in life is NOT “a beautiful act of charity.”
I am not trying to suggest that dorm funds are being spent meaninglessly, or that they should be allocated on service projects for underprivileged children. Instead, I am simply arguing that no matter how old and worthless a piano may appear, it should be respected and not pushed off the roof of Baker for the sake of amusement. For the sake of the piano, the people who built it, and the people who once played it, I believe that we need to move beyond a blindly followed tradition, and abolish the Piano Drop event altogether.
Yun Wu ’06
Yun Wu is an associate photography editor for The Tech.