My interview was with Lisa Lozano, the president of a MIT student group called Class Awareness, Support, and Equality (CASE). Lisa and other students founded CASE last semester to address problems that they saw affecting peers from low-income backgrounds. For example, while many students receive financial aid, some still struggle to make ends meet due to the high cost of living in the Boston area. Others send remittances to family members to mitigate the burden of medical needs, leaving little for themselves. CASE has hosted a series of forums to raise awareness of these issues; they have also worked to connect students in need with sources of Techcash cards.
Lisa identified bureaucracy and the Institute’s hesitancy to change to be main barriers in her work. Although many student services have Techcash cards available for students, such support is unofficial and exists in an area of uncertain legality. The same sort of snag was encountered when CASE attempted to publicize their program for matching families of graduating students with faculty willing to provide housing during commencement; CASE was told that until approval was cleared with the many contractors that run MIT’s dorms, they would not be able to contact students using official mailing lists.
While Lisa is graduating soon, she hopes that CASE will gain enough momentum for its work to be continued by younger members. Their website can be found at https://www.studentsonthecase.com/
Audio file of interview can be found here.
Link to hypothetical headline here.
I’m Hairuo Guo, a senior in Course 6-3 (computer science) and Comparative Media Studies. My specific interests in these two fields were originally somewhat distinct – I’m involved in AI research for the former and have been focused on civic media/technology policy for the latter. What I find extremely exciting (and somewhat unsettling) is how rapidly those two areas are beginning to converge, forcing engineers and data scientists to confront problems ranging from those involving normative ethics (e.g., how should self-driving cars deal with the trolley problem?) to structural bias (e.g., with the spread of machine learning, how do we ensure that programs don’t learn to be prejudiced due to biased training data?). This semester I’ve been trying to become more involved with activist groups, something that a thoroughly enervating research project has prevented me from doing for the past couple years. I spend my spare time getting almost halfway through books, taking photographs, writing, having conversations with cats, and obsessing over my latest media artifact(s) of fascination (currently everything in the Buffyverse).
An example of youth activism that I find to be inspiring is the Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit organization driven by Harry Potter fans (many of whom are youth) that has tackled numerous issues ranging from mental health to LGBTQ+ rights to net neutrality. The effectiveness of HPA is amazing considering that it was founded on a fandom – I think that there are many lessons to be learned from how it has harnessed this (literal) collective interest and used it for civic engagement.