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Kavulla's Shot at MIT Students Inaccurate

Letters to the Editors

By Alexander DEL Nido

To the editors:

Travis R. Kavulla ’06 writes in Sept. 30 issue of The Crimson that Harvard’s liberal education system is valuable and worth saving, arguing that “Harvard has never taken pride, as MIT has, in producing students who are essentially academic drones with blinders attached, divorced from all fields of study but their own” (Column, “The Hollowed Core”).

I wonder whether Kavulla has ever met an MIT student; anyone who has would find his remark laughable.

MIT students go through a broad system of General Institute Requirements in order to graduate, including at least eight courses in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, with mechanisms in place to ensure that students are both exposed to a range of these subjects and are also engaged in at least one subject in depth. MIT’s humanities departments offer majors/minors in over thirty fields of study, amounting to an impressive range and number of subjects compared to other technical institutes. I hardly think that the Harvard science student who sleeps through the 25 required lectures on Moral Reasoning or Foreign Cultures can be considered any more well-rounded than his or her Southeast Cambridge counterparts

Kavulla’s suggestion is also particularly ridiculous when one considers that Institute alumni have reached the top of a huge variety of fields. While MIT is justly proud of its fifteen sons and daughters who are now Nobel Laureates, I doubt even Kavulla himself would say that William R. Hewlett MIT SM ’36 (of Hewlett Packard Co.), Benjamin Netanyahu, MIT Class of 1975 (former Israeli Prime Minister), I.M. Pei, MIT Class of 1940 (architect of Boston’s John Hancock Tower among other things), and Tom and Ray Magliozzi, of MIT Classes 1958 and 1972 respectively, (better known as Click and Clack of NPR’s “Car Talk”) have kept their “blinders” focused on academics all their lives.

I would suggest to Kavulla that he visit Harvard’s own president, Lawrence H. Summers, MIT Class of 1975, and ask him whether he considers himself an “academic drone.”

Alexander del Nido

Cambridge, Mass.

Oct. 6, 2003

The writer is a sophomore at MIT.

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