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Hold Administrators Accountable

The recent decision by the athletic department to eliminate eight sports from the Varsity program at MIT was supposedly made using an objective process:

“In deciding which sports to cut, we made use of a management tool developed in 2003 by a subcommittee of the DAPER Advisory Board comprised of coaches, student athletes, faculty, and administrative staff. The Sport Health and Vitality tool monitors the health of each varsity sport at MIT by tracking such areas as student interest, coaching turnover, availability of appropriate competition, quality and proximity of practice facilities, as well as program costs. In 2004 and 2006, the DAPER Visiting Committee of the MIT Corporation reviewed and endorsed the process, and recently, an independent consultant was employed to review the operational structure of DAPER. It too reinforced the veracity of the Health and Vitality process.

Eliminating sports that do not meet the criteria established by the Sport Health and Vitality process, rather than reducing spending in all sports, not only helps the Department meet its budget mandate, but supports the core value of excellence in all programming. At this time, assuming the economic climate does not worsen significantly, we do not anticipate any further reductions in our varsity sport offerings.”

While it is wonderful if a truly objective process was used to make the decisions, I question why the administration has so far refused to make the results of the subcommittee review public. Their release clearly leads the second paragraph quoted above with “Eliminating sports that do not meet the criteria…,” which implies that this was how decisions were made. MIT expects open and honest behavior by its students, but apparently doesn’t hold its own administration to the same level of accountability. All but one of the cut sports are Olympic sports, and several of those have had students participate (even medal) in the Olympics or other major international competitions. These sports are cut, yet football, a sport known to cause significant permanent injuries to many participants, which is relatively new to MIT, does not have a history of outstanding success, and is a very expensive sport remains.

There is no reason that the students and alumni of MIT should not have visibility to the decision making process for what is so clearly an important area of so many people’s life balance at MIT. Everyone should join together and hold the administration accountable for providing open and honest visibility for how the decisions were made, rather than hiding behind an unverified feel good claim that “we made use of a management tool….”

David A. Schaller ’78

Farewell and Thanks From the New Tech Barber Shop

I’m writing this letter in the hope it makes it into the campus newspaper so I can thank all the people that have been coming into the New Tech Barber Shop.

After being on campus for 54 years, counting my fathers time here, the New Tech Barber Shop will have to close its doors because MIT Real Estate has pulled my lease. Since the renovation of the Student Center, it has been very difficult keeping the business going with two shops offering the same services. But the way they set the basement up, New Tech Barber Shop was at a disadvantage from the very first day.

Before and during the renovation the person in charge kept saying how great is was going to be and everybody that had been in the Student Center were very excited about the whole thing and I was one of them.

Then the person in charge of the renovation and to bring in more businesses into the Student Center asked me if I would mind if another shop catering to women could open up and my business being a barbershop for men. I didn’t mind at all. I would cut men’s hair and she would cut women’s hair, no problem. But after I signed my lease two weeks later I find out that not only that she didn’t cut womens hair, but she was a barber just like us no different.

So since that day I have been struggling to keep my business open. We were doing alright until the travel agency and the computer store moved out and then we lost just about everything. We were at the very end of the hallway with nothing around us so nobody came down there. And when I would put a sign at the end of the hall telling people where to go the manager of the building would make us move it. This went on for 3 years and we never got the business back.

I’ve been here at MIT my whole adult life and don’t want to leave, but every time I talk to Real Estate about maybe moving me to make the competition between the two businesses more even they tell me no. Even though they have a vacant spot in the basement they use for storage and I think that if they would have let me move into that spot, more people would know we were there and I wouldn’t be going through this right now.

So again thank you very much. It’s been nice serving the MIT community.

George Fichera

Owner, New Tech Barber Shop