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Articles by Ryan Normandin

October 1, 2013
For MIT students, this is an exciting time of year. Friends who have spent the summer months apart are reunited, living groups and student groups are reinvigorated by the influx of the excited freshmen, and classes have been in session for just a couple weeks. Additional highlights of the start of the school year for many are Fraternity Rush and Sorority Recruitment. While I’ve previously documented my views that Fraternity Rush is unfair to the dormitories and should be moved to IAP, there is no denying that fraternities (and sororities) do a lot of good for the wider community and the individual members.
June 7, 2013
For the last four years, MIT has been my world. The Institute is a cruel and jealous master, demanding nothing less than complete devotion. It consumes you, and you become consumed by it.
March 12, 2013
Did you know that only six percent of high school seniors will get a bachelors degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field? At the same time, while many economic sectors are stagnant, STEM job openings will likely skyrocket over the next several decades. While so many are still looking for work, the U.S. is not going to be able to fill these openings. While only six percent of U.S. graduates have a degree in a STEM field, 47 percent of Chinese graduates do. There is no question that the United States is falling behind when it comes to STEM education. So why are our students so reluctant to pursue these types of degrees, and what can we do to fix the problem?
March 5, 2013
On Saturday, the government enacted a set of across-the-board spending cuts known as “the sequester.” These cuts, painful for both parties, were created by Congress last year to motivate a compromise on deficit reduction.
March 1, 2013
The United States already has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. There are about 89 guns per 100 citizens, and in 2011, 34 percent of adults owned a gun and 47 percent of adults live with a gun in the house. The United States also ranks eleventh worldwide in total firearm-related deaths, with not a single country ahead of us categorized as “developed” by the United Nations. Given this data, how is there any reasonable expectation that giving even more guns to Americans will somehow lower the rate of firearm-related deaths?
February 5, 2013
Florence Gallez calls on victims of mental illness to try something we already know doesn’t work, and is often dangerous to the individual: to tough it out, build up resilience, and get better on their own. Not only does this view run counter to virtually all research we have at our disposal today, but it is akin to asking victims with cancer to just try really hard to overcome it by themselves without seeking medical attention. Your body is just as incapable of getting rid of an illness like cancer as your mind is incapable of getting rid of an illness like depression. In fact, your body may even stand a better chance, as there’s no “immune system of the mind.” Gallez claims that we have everything we need inside of us, and by focusing on our needs and shutting out the noise of the world, we’ll get better. Gallez is wrong. Let’s take a look at what science has established with respect to mental illness.
December 7, 2012
One scene from A Beautiful Mind, a movie which follows mathematician John Nash’s descent into schizophrenia, does a fine job of demonstrating why individuals cannot handle mental illness on their own. Nash is talking with his psychiatrist, contending that he does not need help because he can “reason his way” out of his illness. His psychiatrist points out that this is impossible, because “your mind is where the problem is in the first place.”
September 25, 2012
MIT has been leading the way in education longer than many of us might realize. TEAL, implemented about a decade ago, lowered the fail rate of 8.01 and 8.02, the freshman physics classes, by embracing a much more engaging style of learning. This is consistent with research that finds that, of all possible teaching styles, students retain the least when lectured to. More recently, MIT decided to take charge of the movement towards online education by creating MITx, which soon became EdX. Although MIT has focused on college-level education, much of what it’s done is still applicable to K-12 education.
August 1, 2012
The implementation of the new Residential Life Area Directors (RLAD) system has been fraught with all of the problems students have become accustomed to in recent years, particularly regarding student input.
May 11, 2012
Asking whether or not religion conflicts with science is too broad a question. Of course there are certain religions that conflict with science; Christian fundamentalism, with its claims of God creating the world in six days and the human race springing from a woman tempted by a talking snake, obviously conflicts with well-established science. Yet there are many other religions which do not conflict with science. As a Catholic, I have not once encountered a belief held by the Church that contradicts anything that I have learned during my time in high school or time here as a physics major at MIT.
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