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So long Vest

The head of MIT is expected to retire soon. I don't dislike Vest, but I don't like him either. In his tenure, he managed to quadruple the MIT endowment, but yet none of that went to student activities or improved student life, and athletics remained on a flat (non-inflation adjusted) budget the entire time I was there. Oh, a tuition went up ~$1K+ a year that I was there.

These two paragraphs near the end of the article are why I won't miss him.

He also dealt with enduring problems of student life like drinking and mental health. The death of a freshman, Scott Krueger, from an overdose of alcohol in 1997 after a fraternity hazing, highlighted the alienation many students felt at the university, largely because so many had lived in fraternities and independent houses around Boston and Cambridge, Mass., since the institute was chartered in 1861.

The death resulted in a $6 million settlement with Mr. Krueger's parents and the construction of three dormitories, along with a requirement beginning in 2001 that freshmen live on campus

I felt that he didn't protect the students against the giant overreaction in the wake of Krueger's death. Houses lived in a constant state of fear - if someone smuggled alcohol into your party, it was your fault, and you could end up kicked out of your house for a period of time. The social life on campus evaporated after this incident, and it was still recovering four years later when I left. I also think they set a bad precedent by settling with his parents - they were arguing that MIT was in loco parentis, and by settling it set this terrible trend that parents somehow rely on a large institution to be a better parent to their kid than themselves, nevermind the fact that the kid is now actually a legal adult, and if he couldn't proper decisions with his life only two months away from home, who shares the greater responsibility?
M.I.T.

Comments (2)

f:

can I say something?

I think if you were a parent, then you could understand that they felf powerless and wanted to do SOMETHING to ease their pain....or their pocket. I don't know.

Ken:

I'm not sure you're understanding the intent of my post. My post is criticizing Vest for settling with the parents, not with the parents suing. In this day and age, people escape their own personal responsibility by trying to find the largest target they can sue, and that, sadly enough, is America, and can be a topic for a different post.

Within the context of this post, my nitpick is that MIT effectively agreed with their pocket books that college students, despite being legal adults, aren't actually adults and that the university is supposed to act as their big, institutional parent. I feel that in too many cases parents are avoiding parental responsibilities by forcing them upon educational institutions, from pre-school on, and now we have a precedent that it continues through college as well.

As an aside, if I were a parent, I would view it as my fault. I had 18 years to raise the kid and teach him how to make choices for himself. There would be pain, and grief, but it would be at the loss of my son and my own failures as a parent.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on December 5, 2003 11:25 AM.

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