I'm still allowed to post whatever I want on my personal blog so I think this would be a great place to display what's been causing so much controversy over at the MIT blogs. Wank away dear readers.
Floating all around MIT are petitions saying something along the lines of "Do you care about ________ ? Are you unhappy about _________ ? Sign this petition!" I normally read these but don't have a vested interest and more than likely pass it up. Now a huge issue just ran smack into the face of the freshman class and I don't see any petitions so I'm doing the only other thing I'm able: putting it on the internet.
Ring Committee is a group of 12 students, chosen at the end of freshman year, who are tasked with designing the brass rat for their class. The brass rat is MIT's class ring, one of the most recognized rings in the world and a huge incentive to make it through sophomore year before dropping out (that was a joke). These 12 students are tasked with taking everything that's happened during our time here, summarize it symbolically, and display it on a ring that everybody in the class will have for the rest of their lives. It's kind of a big deal.
As you may or may not know, MIT has a lot of diversity, not just racially but also socially. The dormitories at MIT are very distinct in their reputations and personalities. The main, stereotypical (but not altogether incorrect) division made in categorizing dorms is the West Campus and East Campus split. I AM NOT trying to start a debate about West Campus and East Campus here, so if you're looking for a fight then leave it at the door, nobody cares. Here's how I describe the difference between east and west campus. West campus is where you live if you want to continue with the rules, order, and cleanliness of when you lived at home. East campus is where you live if you say "screw it, I'm doing what I want" and don't care about all of that stuff you learned at home. Both are nice, both have their upsides and downsides, and again, we're not going to argue about the differences between the two. The point is, both are very different.
50 people applied for Ring Committee and 12 were chosen. The e-mail announcing the decisions was sent out last night. Here's a pie chart that shows you who all was selected:
Immediately following that e-mail a wave of outrage swept east campus and a large portion of the freshman class. Take note, not only is almost half of the ring committee from ONE dorm, but none of the dorms from east campus are represented. At all.
Four hours after that e-mail we all received an e-mail from the class president that started with:
"Since announcing the roster of the class Ring Committee, I have been literally inundated by emails inquiring about the highly visible and unfortunate absence of "eastern campus" (East Campus, Senior Haus, Bexley, and Random) residents. "
First off, Mr. President, you don't live in Senior House, so lay off the "Haus."
He continued, throughout his incredibly long and verbose e-mail, to explain that hardly anybody from east campus had applied and that statistically it was improbable, even with a random sampling, to select anybody from east campus to Ring Committee. He argues that everything was done anonymously and this just kind of happened. He also said, in response to requests to add a 13 member to Ring Committee to represent east campus:
"To those who are fervently calling for the installment of a 13th member of the Ring Committee, I would ask that you reconsider what you are asking. Would you really be comfortable with the idea of petitioning Council to disregard the MIT culture of respecting meritocracy to use "affirmative action" on living groups?"
Now you know all of the details, let me tell you what matters.
Obviously having a completely anonymous process failed miserably. Yes, congratulations class council, you voted using a meritocracy and have selected a committee that has the skills necessary to design and create a ring. You know what you didn't select? A group of people who understand MIT. You selected Baker and some other people. There's no doubt in my mind that your selected Committee has ventured to east campus or has friends in east campus, but THEY DON'T LIVE THERE! They don't understand what day to day life is, they don't understand the traditions, they (more than likely) wouldn't even understand a conversation held between ec residents due to the difference in vocabulary.
Right off, I'm not sugar coating anything. I'm not a people-pleasing council-person with a political agenda. I'm angry and don't care about being PC.
In order for our class ring to have content that represents our class AS A WHOLE then our class AS A WHOLE needs to be represented on the Ring Committee. "Affirmative action on dorms"? Absolutely! Anything that will diversify that committee needs to happen, otherwise I'm afraid that when I get my brass rat I'm going to look on it and see a bunch of SaveTFP, GoCrossCampus, and other MIT sponsored "we need to give our students something structured and exciting to do to make them feel like they belong here!" crap. What I'm afraid I won't see are hacks, spontaneous student construction projects, and other non-MIT sponsored activities.
Congratulations again, class council, you picked a council using a completely anonymous method. You also picked the least diverse Ring Committee conceivable. Fix it.