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Were we conspiracy theorists, we would have to say that the release of the Institute-wide Planning Task Force’s Final Report smack in the middle of final’s week was done purposefully to minimize the number of students who would read and comment on it immediately. The timing, coming almost two months behind schedule, certainly seems coincidental, and intentional or not, student commentary on the report has been muted.

Were we unbridled optimists, we would say that this is because students have read and agree with the report, and that it represents a perfect example of a joint study to promote efficiency at MIT while preserving the essential culture of the Institute. Unfortunately, we aren’t, they haven’t, and it doesn’t.

So starting today and running throughout IAP, The Tech will be analyzing and reporting on the Task Force report. We will shed light on some of the report’s biggest and most profound failings, but will also take the time to note the ideas that are truly salutary for all of MIT. This is a time of change. Some proposals, such as abandoning current work on W1, will shape the course of the Institute for years to come. They will redefine our priorities and the values we profess to hold. Few of them will be painless.

Change is, however, ultimately necessary for MIT to survive financially and remain at the forefront of academia. The question, of course, is finding the changes that, as the Task Force says, allow MIT to “stay true to its core.” Below, we begin our discussion by tackling a topic the Task Force failed to; what, exactly, is MIT’s core, and how should we preserve it?