The following letter was delivered to the columnist by a beaver messenger swimming down the Charles River.
As representatives of the American Beaver Association, we feel we must correct the negative image of beavers perpetuated by both The Tech and MIT community. We highly resent being termed “Brass Rats” or as described in a recent column, “nibbling, muddy, oversized rats.” We also disapprove of the constant comparisons of MIT students to beavers as well as the use of the beaver as the MIT mascot.
The ABA was initially pleased to learn of MIT’s cultural association with the beaver. Having nearly been hunted to extinction, it was refreshing to finally get some appreciation and notice. However, beaver agents who have paddled down river towards campus have submitted extremely alarming reports about the behavior and culture of MIT students. These reports were so frightening that the ABA council felt compelled to distance our reputation from those of MIT students.
Though both beavers and MIT students achieve degrees in engineering, the similarities stop there. First and foremost, beavers are physically gifted and socially adept animals. We don’t need a swim test! We were born to swim. We are also highly evolved when it comes to communicating and socializing as evidenced by our skills in romance, something many MIT students lack. Upon reaching adulthood, all beavers easily find their mates for life. More importantly, we find mates within our own species and see no need to bus “Wellesley Girls” into our domain.
The reports coming in from MIT also suggest that MIT students have a callous disregard for personal hygiene. A cursory glance through the Facebook group “Overheard at MIT” gives such notable examples as, “Guy #1: ‘Did you get a haircut?’ Guy #2: ‘No, I showered.’”
Really? As beavers, we spend at least eight hours a day in the water. By our calculations, we are over 200 times cleaner than the average MIT student, and yet you call us “Brass Rats”?
Even though you may apply that term endearingly, we find it highly offensive. We also find the term “nature’s engineers” remarkably disparaging. Though you believe a kinship exists between beavers and MIT students because we both build things, beavers are not simply “nature’s engineers.” We are a critical keystone species of the ecosystem. Without us, America’s wetlands are in peril. Without MIT students, there’s simply less sodium in the Charles River. As a keystone species, we must oversee many aspects of our ecosystem. We help fertilize soil, control floods, and remove toxins from the waterway (including that sodium you dumped). We practically create a wetlands habitat by ourselves. And yet it hurts that you think of us as mere day laborers instead of true Lords of the Wetland.
We understand that MIT students are flawed creatures and are willing to look past their insultingly naïve depiction of beavers, provided they make certain efforts towards improving MIT-beaver relationships in the future.
Though we are rodents, we are the noblest of the kind and the second largest (aside from those stupid Capybaras down in the Amazon who are nothing but fat swimming rats). We beavers have a long series of notable accomplishments. We escorted the children to Aslan. We developed the three-state Busy Beaver Turing Machine (seriously). We are the national animal of Canada and the mascot of the London School of Economics (a much more fitting association). During the last ice age when you humans were busy playing with sticks, our eight foot long Giant Beaver ancestors roamed the continent with impunity. We have luscious fur and powerful teeth. Heck our bodies even produce aspirin naturally. And yet you call us rats? What have rats ever done besides scurry around sewer gutters in Boston Common and carry the plague?
Lastly and saddest of all, the beaver population has not garnered one cent in royalties from being used as MIT’s mascot, unofficial or not. It almost seems like MIT students have an abject disdain for intellectual property and copyrights. Well, we will not let you pirate our likeness anymore. We demand a higher percentage of royalties for our contributions to MIT culture, especially in terms of Internet and intellectual property revenue. The Internet especially intrigues us as we’ve been told it is nothing more than a series of tubes. Considering that MIT owns 1/256 of the Internet, surely you could spare a few tubes? Beaver scientists are salivating at the thought of using the tubes as a means of connecting the waterways of various interspersed ponds.
We think these are fair demands and we hope reason will be your guide. Despite having puny teeth and being tailless, we feel there is potential for your species and we would hate for our relationship to sour. However, unless our demands are accommodated, we will be forced to go on strike, preventing this season’s Brass Rats from being produced and forcing you to rerun Brass Rats from previous years. In fact, we already have a chant ready.
“MIT, how greedy can you get? You call us rats and you won’t share the ’net!”
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver