Wednesday, March 01, 2006

From an IIT Alum

Hi folks, I'm an IIT alumuns. I just want to make it clear that I do not represent IIT officially in anyway. Now that said, I graduated from IIT just in 2004 so I have a fairly recent view how things go at IIT. Currently, I am continuing my education in healthcare. I'm a slightly different view because my major was in molecular biochemistry and biophysics unlike the typical engineer you may find at IIT. So I have a softer view of science than perhaps others and certainly a much less fanatical loyalty towards engineering that I have seen on campus at some points.

I'd like to first start up by extending a welcome to our campus. I know many of you were against the move and I don't find it strange that your loyalty to your college is so strong. I only think it shows that the Shimer spirit won't be lost even while at IIT. But since you're all moving, I think we should make the best of it.

Anyways, I'd like to clear up some misconceptions about IIT. First, I know the area isn't the greatest but it's getting better and to be honest, in my four years at IIT, never once was I mugged or assulted. Its not nearly as bad as people initially think and really, common sense will keep you safe. Strangely, I have a unique perspective since I happen to be in North Chicago right now, merely a few miles from Waukegan so I know how it is to live on the far north side :)

Also some people seem to view IIT as a giant behemoth that attempts to swallow Shimer whole and possibly, if it dislikes its taste, spit it back out. To be honest, among universities, IIT isn't that large either, undergraduate at least. I come from California where a typical public university has in excess of 20,000 undergrad students. When I came to IIT, I found the undergraduate population fairly small and even somewhat tight knit. (particularily if you live in the dorms) You'll come to see that IIT is very fragmented. It has five campuses, each of which is like a seperate universe, the law school, institute of design, are of so little concern when I was attending that I entirely forgot they existed sometimes. IIT really has its own spirit as well and much like you, we have a sort of understanding what sort of student IIT will attract.

Many of my friends from IIT were amazingly well rounded people. Intelligent, quite aware of world events, and just in general, open to new ideas. Some of them were more brillant than I had anticipated a school like IIT having. Seriously, there were quite a few students who could have gone elsewhere to big name, well respected schools, but many had good reasons to come to IIT (namely scholarship, just about everyone at IIT has some sort of scholarship due to the fact that the university gives out many of them as their "hook" to attract bright students) Now that you are moving, I hope the Shimer community can try to open up and get to know some of us. I think both Shimer and IIT can gain and learn an enormous amount from each other. There are many IIT students who have an appreciation for the arts and literature. While at IIT, I myself took a Shakespeare course because I had an interest in Shakespeare in high school. I was also required to read Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin as part of a class. My girlfriend who graduated with a political science degree from IIT and came as an exchange student from Moscow is a lover of Dovstoyevsky and Russian literature. On the flipside, can Shimer students honestly say that taking a few very stoic, hardcore science courses will hurt them? I think maybe it might just help people bridge a gap in understanding different professions.

I know that many of you believe this move will not benefit Shimer in the end and I won't try to argue that. You have the best intentions for your college and certainly, you know it far better than I ever will. But really, I think there is much to gain on both sides. IIT's humanities are quite flimsy. I knew a girl who wanted to minor in literature/classics and she had to create her own program simply because she had taken all the classes at IIT in humanities but they still weren't enough for a minor!

Anyways, if anything, you'll find IIT has a strong appreciation for the arts. Architecture is revered at IIT. The campus is one of most important works of architecture in the US and you'll find creativity is well praised. Not all of us are pocket protector, slide rule, graph paper wielding engineers who only believe in data :)

Lastly, it can work. Shimer can keep its identity and still remain a part of the IIT community. I present, as an example, the Claremont Colleges. An institution of five seperate colleges. Each has its own flavor, uniqueness and manages to keep it without having to be stuck under the umbrella of a giant university. Students can take classes in any of the colleges but they all manage to maintain their unique spirits. The colleges consist of institutions that could not be farther from each other in terms of philosophy, an woman's college specializing in humanities, a very well known and tough engineering school and others. But they all get along and seem to enjoy the relationship they have developed.

Please, give it a chance and please get to know us. Set up a booth in MTCC with signs like "get to know Shimer, we're here finally!". You have come from afar to begin life anew so please, sit, eat and tell us about your college, spirit and people.

2 comments :

Albert Fernandez said...

I really appreciate your taking the initiative to post on this blogsite. With all the preoccupation about retaining SC's identity and community, I sometimes worry we'll end up being rude or snobby toward IIT community members. Since you seem to be addressing Shimerians in general, I'm assuming you won't mind if I disseminate your message to them. Thanks again.

Albert B. Fernandez
Shimer College Faculty

Hitokirishinji said...

Please do, I only wish to facilitate communicate between everyone! I hope that everyone will be open and make this painless as can be. Perhaps, maybe even enjoy it a little.