YOUR VIEWS Letters to the Editor

From melting glaciers to dramatic weather patterns, climate change is impacting life on Earth. On March 28 at 8:30 p.m., tens of millions of people will demonstrate concern for our planet by turning out their lights for one hour. I urge the Tech community to take part and support Earth Hour. More than 50 million people participated in 2008, as lights went dark at the Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge and Sydney’s Opera House. Earth Hour 2009 will be even bigger, with more than 240 cities and hundreds of college campuses taking part.

The Tech Freshman Council, along with several environmental groups on campus, is partnering with the Mayor’s Office and City Councilman Kwanza Hall to put on a “Lights Out Georgia Tech” program to partner with “Lights Out Atlanta.” The program will likely be the signature event in this movement for the city of Atlanta and solidify Tech as a flagship university in this cause—but only with the participation of each and every student, residence hall and building.

This is a critical moment for our planet. Through Earth Hour we can collectively raise our voices and demand that our elected leaders join with the global community to find solutions to this urgent problem. On March 28 at 8:30, let’s all turn out for Earth Hour and for the future of our planet.

Joe Charbonnet

First-year CE

OCEB renovation makes little sense

I suppose it takes a school with an amazing architecture and engineering program to make amazingly stupid architecture and engineering mistakes. What I’m referring to, of course, is the wheelchair accessibility of the recently refurbished Old Civil Engineering Building (OCEB).

The building is compliant with the ADA. That’s not the problem. The problem is that on the front patio area, a wheelchair ramp leads down from the main doors to the patio area but no additional ramp leads from that patio area to the sidewalk level. Essentially, this means that wheelchair bound persons who expect to exit the building via the front entrance—a reasonable request—will find themselves trapped on the front patio area, unable to leave the building from [there].

After talking with some faculty knowledgeable about the refurbishing, it appears there was a plan to have a second, very discreet ramp leading to the sidewalk level. However, due to GT Capital Planning and Space Management’s overly stringent requirement that the front of the building not be altered in the slightest, this plan was revoked. Anyone looking at the building will quickly see that the left staircase leading from the patio to sidewalk could have been easily and discretely converted to a wheelchair-accessible ramp with essentially no change in the building’s visible facade.

That refurbishing was meant to last the building probably at least 30 years. Now we’ll have to deal with stupid inflexibility for at least that long.

Nicholas Sondej

First-year CMPE

One-track mentality endangers Tech

A problem I see at Tech is the idea of “compartmentalized” minds. It is best demonstrated by those who come here thinking they will escape into the physical sciences (or technology, industry or business).

These men and women include some of mankind’s best brains. They are able to perform feats of brilliant conceptual integration and rational thinking in engineering, computer science, technology and business. Yet they become helplessly anti-conceptual in all the other aspects of their lives, particularly in human relationships and social issues. But no such refuge is possible.

Think of all the dangers that a compartmentalized mind creates and perpetrates. It means that the engineers and scientists competent to discover new knowledge are not able to judge for what purpose that knowledge is to be used.

Instead, learn to accept that no such refuge exists, that man cannot survive as half-scientist, half-terrified person. So long as one wants use one’s achievements in reality, one must learn to face and understand the irrationality in human relationships. If there are degrees of urgency, I would say that it is the engineers and scientists who need to speak up most. The nature of their power and responsibility are too important.

Kate Bowen

Fourth-year CE