If you’re a Caltech alum, odds are you’ve already heard about the Sturm und Drang currently going down on campus. (If you haven’t, please drop me an email privately and I’ll fill you in.) I won’t go into the details, except to say that I, like most alums, would personally be VERY UNHAPPY if the Caltech administration were to make the drastic changes that seem to be being contemplated. Put succinctly, it would destroy all the things that brought me to Caltech, and would cut the heart out of what makes Caltech special, at least to me.
But the controversy has been fascinating as a social technology phenomenon. In the 6 days since hell broke loose, students and alumni have started a wiki to gather facts about what happened, set up a daily newsletter to update all those interested on what’s going on, and the Facebook page for discussions around the event has topped 1400 alumni. That doesn’t sound too impressive until you realize that Caltech only graduates about 200 students per year…so approximately fourteen percent of all living alumni have come together in just under a week to discuss and take action about events on campus!
Now that is the magic of the Internet. It’s amazing how fast social movements can pull together – even more amazing considering that Caltech alumni tend to be pathetically apathetic, politically speaking. Prior to this event, I couldn’t imagine more than thirty or forty of us mobilizing for, well, just about anything. So over fourteen hundred – well, ma’am, that’s a mighty large number.
(In case you are wondering what could possibly be going on that would get that many people that roused, the rumors are that the Caltech administration is considering dismantling the House system. Every student belongs to one of eight student houses, each of which has its own personality and traditions; and House identity runs so strong that, even twenty years after graduation, when two Techers meet, their first question to each other will invariably be, “So, what House were you in?” Each of the student houses is like a family – very tightly bonded, and a social identity as well. So threatening the House system threatens the entire Caltech social experience. Which – not the stellar academics – was the reason I went there…but that, as they say, is another story.)
Getting back to chocolate…I am now all set for Chocopalooza, which starts at 7:20 am tomorrow morning, when Mike wakes up and I can start cooking up chocolates! First on the slate is the white guava, followed by the apricot-honey…and then, four more delicious flavors to fill out day one!