Lobby 10 is the crossroads of our campus. Student groups use it to advocate for causes, advertise for events, and to practice and perform. Despite its active role in student life and high visibility, many often forget that Lobby 10 serves another purpose — it is a war memorial.
On the walls of Lobby 10 are inscribed the names of MIT alumni/ae who perished in service during the Korean, Vietnam, and World Wars as well as quotes by former MIT presidents Richard Cockburn Maclaurin and Francis Amassa Walker (also a veteran of the Civil War). Names continue to be added to the walls as MIT becomes aware of their sacrifice. Three names have been added to the Vietnam memorial column since its original inscription.
The only other memorialized space on campus for MIT’s war dead, besides Lobby 10, exists in the Graduate Student Council’s office in 50-220 in the form of a fire place dedicated to Henry Lamy, Class of 1913, the first MIT Engineer to die in World War 1. This older and more modest homage was the first war memorial on campus and was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1920 (The Tech Vol 40, No. 50).
Peer institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton also have memorials dedicated to the members of their respective communities that died in wartime service to the United States. These locations are named as Memorial Hall or Memorial Rotunda to signify the public dedication these institutions have towards the men and women that walked their halls and gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country. MIT’s war memorial is currently named Lobby 10, a non-descriptive and dull identifier of a location that deserves more. The Institute can do better.
Efforts to officially designate Lobby 10 as Memorial Lobby have been underway for the past few years. These efforts have been spearheaded primarily by the ROTC Oversight Committee and the MIT Military Alumni/ae Association. This past December, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) passed resolution 59gsc.6.1 to declare graduate support for renaming lobby 10 in honor of the MIT war dead. The Undergraduate Association subsequently approved a similar motion on February 12th. Though there are many logistical and timeline issues to be resolved, we are proud to say that the student body has spoken uniformly in favor of this change.
We now look to the President of MIT and the MIT Corporation to deliberate and deliver a decision on a space we often pass through that bears a significance we rarely think about.
Eric Victor is the graduate student representative on the ROTC Oversight Committee, the Treasurer of the Graduate Student Council, and a two-tour US Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.