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Wasted opportunity to get new nanofabrication facility

I read your article about the redevelopment of the 181 Mass. Ave. Analog Devices by Novartis with great interest. This site had a sophisticated microfabrication facility that easily could have been transformed into a new nanofabrication facility for MIT’s use. Having a state of the art nanofabrication facility is essential to achieve excellence in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

MIT’s current facility in Building 39 is old and getting out of date, especially in comparison to brand new facilities at peer institutions like Harvard, Berkeley and Cornell. By handing the site over to Novartis, MIT has lost a unique opportunity to get a new facility for a fraction of the cost of building a comparable facility from scratch (typically around $150 million to $200 million).

I am a graduate student in EECS and I make extensive use of the nanofabrication facilities at both MIT and Harvard for my research. In addition, I have interned at Analog Devices and worked in the 181 Mass. Ave. facilities.

—Omair I. Saadat G

An alum’s opinion on the dining plan

I am not particularly shocked by MIT’s decision to go ahead with implementing an unpopular dining plan without considering UA input, as this is but one of many examples in recent years where the administration has decided it is both right and appropriate to interfere with students’ private lives. Still, as much as I am disappointed at the administration for playing nanny, I’m more disappointed by their lack of wisdom. Given all the previous failures in dining, do they really expect that this will be any different?

Even today, I am generally a 1–2 meals a day sort of person (punctuated by snacks). Were I student in an affected dorm when this plan went into action, I would be forced to pay for meals I could not consume, even if I ate every single meal on campus — an unlikely thing, considering how frequently students used to comment on Aramark’s prison service. While I am pleased to hear they will be making breakfast more readily available, it is a grave mistake to fail to consider that 3 meals a day is not some universal standard, and it is likewise plainly offensive to ignore the fact that some among MIT’s diverse student body have strong dietary preferences that cannot not be efficiently (or tastily) served by the likely vendors. HDAG’s recommendation is both ethnically insensitive and an insult to the student body’s maturity.

I would remind students with strong objections that food services are particularly vulnerable to runs on certain goods, and unpopular dining plans can easily be made a financial nightmare through coordinated mass expression of dietary preferences.

—Tyler Hunt ’04

Opportunity cost

Sunday morning I flew for the first time in my nearly 57 years. I only thought I had flown before, but that was as a pea in a winged projectile of a pod. This was as a thistle, a soap bubble or a wisp of dog fur, floating on the smooth blue air above Kitty Hawk, NC, air I could touch and be touched by. Two thousand feet below like a feast before the famished lay the Outer Banks, a banquet for the eye of white sand, water green with life and sunlight shimmering golden on the sea. Fifty dolphins fed and frolicked in the surf off Nag’s Head. Soaring seagulls wheeled far below. In the distance stood the Wright Brothers Memorial as it is meant to be seen: from above. In a life of so many forgotten days I do not believe my memory of this one will soon fade.

I owe this experience to a multitude of confluent factors. Among them are the generosity and the ultralight piloting skills of PBE brother Marc Jorrens ’89, whom I met only that morning and yet who, through the magic of collegiate and fraternal bonds, was already a life-long friend. The gentle urging of Dan and Susan, the delightful children of PBE brother Gray Safford ’75 successfully countered my late Mother’s lectures in risk management.

So many choices, judgments and decisions lay behind any given moment, transcendent or routine.

I wonder now at what other such moments and memories will be stillborn in my life and in the lives of brothers I will never have now that my House has been deemed detrimental to the MIT community and to humankind, somehow something our often wretched world is better off without. What do those who sit in judgment of my fraternity seek to accomplish by her suffocation? How can doing so possibly be right? Why must they do it? Is there truly no better solution than one indifferent to its cost in unforgettably beautiful days that will never be?

—David S. Eckel ’76
Brother of Phi Beta Epsilon