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Caring For Humans And Animals Intertwined

In response to your article, “Demeaning Human Suffering” (Aug. 30, 2007), it was surprising to see Mr. Ali Wyne criticize the outrage the public has expressed over the Michael Vick dog fighting situation. While it’s clear that he is frustrated by the lack of action in areas of human crisis, such as Darfur, it seems as though to place the blame on either PETA or other animal protection groups is misdirected. As an animal rights organization, PETA works to protect animals. Similarly, Amnesty International is a human rights organization, which focuses on helping people. We each work on our respective issues, but many of our supporters care about both. Human rights and animal rights are not mutually exclusive, and in fact they are fundamentally intertwined.

Gandhi famously said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” In situations where humans are abused, studies have shown that many of the abusers began by committing acts of cruelty to animals in previous years. In fact, when the FBI is profiling serial killers, cruelty to animals is one of the main three factors that they look for when determining the likelihood of a repeat offense. In other words, people who commit cruelty to animals rarely stop there.

To speak out against violence, regardless of whether it is towards animals or humans, is a noble effort, and I commend Mr. Wyne for taking such a stance. But we must remember that one can choose a veggie burger at dinner and still attend the Rally for Darfur that evening.

Ryan Huling

College Campaign Coordinator for peta2.com, the youth division of PETA

Non-Discrimination Means Co-ed Housing Too

MIT’s non-discrimination policy claims that Institute-administered programs do not discriminate on the basis of sex. This is an admirable egalitarian ideal, but from McCormick Hall to Chocolate City to its support for single-sex FSILGs, the Institute sponsors a considerable amount of gender discrimination.

Fraternities and sororities in particular almost always embrace and often actively seek diversity in their members’ choice of major, extra-curricular activities, nationality, race, and even sexual orientation. Yet most of them are content to continue the legacy of 19th and early 20th century sexism, denying the benefits of membership to certain people based solely on their gender.

Many undergraduates are currently evaluating their future housing options. I urge all of them to truly embrace diversity, and choose a co-ed housing option. For everyone else, it’s time to speak up and bring MIT into the 21st century. Over the years, most dorms and some FSILGs have either made the switch to being co-ed, or started off that way. Let’s finish the job. We don’t have to end special-interest housing (for example, Chocolate City officially welcomes people of all races, and at least one non-black person has in fact lived there), but we do have to stop sending the message that we scientists and engineers still think that people should be judged by their gender rather than their ideas or their accomplishments.

Christopher D. Beland ’02