Editor’s note: this is a dissent by the above members of The Tech’s Editorial Board in response to the editorial published on March 29.
We believe that the Undergraduate Association’s referendum to measure student opinion on the impending house dining changes was neither toxic nor irresponsible. Though changes to dining are all but a certainty, we don’t see it as a problem that the UA continues to poll students and to communicate the antipathy that many on campus feel towards the new plan. While we certainly agree that student leaders should pick their battles and carefully weigh the priorities of the student body, we feel that this past Tuesday’s editorial goes too far by assigning sinister motives to members of the UA and in calling for the organization to be — generally — more complacent to administrative mandates.
There are a number of perfectly valid reasons why a large subset of the student body opposes the new plan. Students aren’t simply reacting against dining out of some blind rage at the administration. Many students perceive the changes as a threat to the nature and character of their living and social groups — things that MIT students take a fairly unique pride in. The dining changes will affect student groups and living groups who use food to encourage recruitment, socialization, and meeting attendance.
The new plan will be almost uniformly more expensive than what most students are used to spending today. Since house dining forces a significant financial choice onto students, there is the potential that more undergraduates will choose their living group out of cost considerations rather than where they feel they best fit. This will affect not just the undergrads within the housing system, but MIT’s strong alumni community as well.
If they are grounded in reasonable complaints, students should not feel that they need to be resigned about a decision once it is made. Just because members of the administration have begun to implement a certain plan doesn’t mean that it is set in stone forever. Even once implemented, the campus dining plan will still be subject to change, depending on the actions of the stakeholders involved. If you are really passionate about the issue, continue working to keep it alive. After all, a brief review of the history of MIT student life is littered with successive changes to dining programs, housing policies, orientation, and rush traditions. Nothing is ever really final.