Only at MIT…July 10th, 2009 · 37 comments
From Drinking to Ulcers
Earlier this week, I stumbled across the following letter to the editor, published in the New York Times. It was written in response to an editorial, printed on June 30th, about tackling the binge drinking problem on college campuses.
To the Editor:
The solution to binge drinking problems on campuses is simple: college curriculums need to be more rigorous. If college programs required their students to put in a significant number of hours per week doing work related to their classes, campus drinking would soon find itself limited to one or two nights a week.
Furthermore, those few nights a week would be more moderate, since the students would drink knowing that they needed to get up in the morning and keep hacking away at that thermodynamics problem set.
I suspect that one of the main reasons students who aren’t in college drink less than college students is that they have to get up in the morning and go to work at a real job, where they are accountable for their behavior.
Munich, July 1, 2009
The writer is a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
What caught my attention, of course, was the biographical sentence at the end of the letter. Only an MIT student would think that the answer to a social problem is to work people too hard to have time to develop the problem.
At first, I found this note amusing, but this soon gave away to a darker thought: why do schools like MIT allow this type of mindset to not only exist, but become the norm? If a large percentage of the student population here were becoming physically injured in unsafe campus buildings, or falling ill due to a disease outbreak, the administration would rush to stamp out the problem. But the issues of the mind that are common here — unhappiness, detachment, chronic stress — are viewed with a tinge of nostalgia, or, secretly, approved as part of what makes MIT unique.
Based on the daily e-mails I receive from students across the country, it seems like this indifference is endemic. Campuses might invest in mental health programs to catch the worst of the sufferers when they make their fall, but there’s little effort to prevent these falls in the first place, or, more importantly, impede the slide into tolerable unhappiness that many students silently accept.
I’m curious about your thoughts. What’s your experience with stress on your college campus, and how your school handles the issue?