A Love Letter to MIT

I love MIT. I love MIT more than I’ve loved any institution or organization in my entire life. I love this place so much; I helped design one of its most iconic symbols, the Brass Rat

Brass Rat

MIT can be a really difficult place. That can happen when you put together 1,100 brilliant students per year onto one campus. 42% of my class was valedictorian of their high school and 90% were in the top 5% of their class.

One of the events I went to when I came onto MIT’s campus for the first time during my CPW (Campus Preview Weekend) was a poignant speech given by Stu Schmill, the Dean of Admissions. My favorite line of that speech was this:

At any point during your career at MIT half of you in this room will be below average. And over the course of your 4 years here, almost all of you will be below average at some point.

A lot of freshmen come into MIT feeling like hotshots. They were at the top of their class, never had to study, and aced all of their classes. MIT quickly breaks you down, with the hopes of building you back up even stronger.

What I love about MIT the most though, is that they have really nailed this process. For your first semester at MIT, you are on Pass/No-Record, meaning that for all of your classes in freshman fall, you can either pass, or it doesn’t show up on your transcript. Second semester, all freshman are on A/B/C/No-Record, meaning that you can either get a passing letter grade, or it doesn’t show up on your transcript. This means that over the course of freshman year, you literally cannot fail a class.

Coming into MIT, I was always really scared that the environment would become ultra-competitive, with everyone trying to nudge themselves forward on the bell curve and push everyone back. Over the course of the two years I’ve been here, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a student not helping someone who asked for it. MIT is built to be collaborative. Some of the PSETs are so difficult, that it would be impossible to complete them on your own.

Freshman advisers constantly push their advisees to form study groups and find friends in their classes to work with.

MIT also has a ton of administrative support for students as well. One of my favorites is S3 (Student Support Services), where you can go with any problem from mental health, to just not feeling fully-prepared for an exam. They will require professors to push back exam and due dates if it means that you will perform better as a student.

I see MIT as a giant, inter-connected supportive family. I feel comfortable chatting to every student, faculty, and administrator.

Thursday night’s events in particular show off how we band together and grieve over the loss of one of our own. On Thursday, April 18th, 2013, Sean Collier, an MIT police officer was slain while responding to a report of disturbance. Sean gave his life in protection of the MIT and Boston community.

The outpourings of stories I have seen about Sean throughout social media have been heartwarming, and I know that we have all missed out on the life of a truly wonderful person. One of my favorite anecdotes is below:

Not an hour before Officer Sean passed away, I drove past his patrol car in the ambulance and he gave his emergency lights a quick flick, I gave ours a quick flick too, and we all waved, smiled, and laughed as we each went our different directions. It was these moments, where Officer Sean went out of his way to make people happy, to go above and beyond his job to treat the people of MIT as friends.

RIP Sean Collier, you will be missed.

MIT has come together to remember Sean and his character. Almost all of campus is wearing black to school in his memory.

A few weeks ago, I did something really stupid. Like really really stupid. The part that frustrates me the most was the way it affected the community I so dearly cherish. The part that digs deep into my heart, is not the disciplinary action that I am going through now, but instead the reactions from my fellow classmates. Instead of causing some laughter over cancelled classes, I caused strife and extra stress on my friends during one of the most difficult weeks of the semester.

I think the most exemplifying event was how the administration reacted the following morning. There was no mention of the disciplinary process I would go through or anything like that. Instead, the president of MIT was asking me how I was doing, introduced me to the head of S3, and gave me some tips on how to deal with the media.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I love you MIT and your family, I hope I can make it up to you one day.


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