MIT is a hard place. It is hard because of unrelenting pressure to master difficult materials quickly. It is hard because the time to do all that is required is inadequate. It is also hard if you are black or Hispanic or female or gay/lesbian or transgendered or blind or religious or from a culture hostile to the United States or in any way different from whatever norms are perceived to exist in the larger society.
“Tech is Hell” is how older generations of students put it. “IHTFP,” which stands for many things, is how today’s students express a complicated relationship with a community they both love and hate. MIT President Jerome Wiesner believed the point was not to deny such experiences, but to transcend them: “I hope that your MIT education has given you the objectivity and breadth to help yourself, your social group, your profession, your region, your country, and the world to bridge the many intellectual and emotional gaps that make understanding difficult.” Whether striving to improve MIT or change the world, reconciling IHTFP may be the Institute’s most important moral lesson of all time.