Dumb Tech Talk

One half of one sentence — the first half of the first sentence — of an editorial on “Understanding Diversity” in The Tech, “MIT’s oldest and largest newspaper & the first newspaper published on the web,” is true. “Many people hold a naïve conception of affirmative action and don’t understand what it actually involves,” the editorial begins promisingly, but then plummets to “yet they deem it a dangerous program that threatens our Institute.”

In fact, it is almost always critics of affirmative action who concentrate on what “it actually involves,” and defenders who speak in soporific, wispy generalities. Here, for example, is The Tech’s own definition — yes, definition — of affirmative action:

Affirmative action is recognizing that there are still people who are prejudiced. It is understanding that discrimination still exists and has a real impact on people and their lives. It is taking a holistic view of admissions and faculty searches and considering individuals in their respective contexts.

But let’s not be too critical; the editors may actually have a point. If this editorial accurately reflects the analytical acumen of MIT students when confronted with a non-technical issue, then adding a few more affirmative action admits to the undergraduate mixture wouldn’t lower the standards there very much.


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