To the Class of 1970

A Letter from Karen Arenson and Steve Carhart to you

To Letter-Writers from the Class of ’70:

Our class has been invited to participate in a very unusual project with the class of 2020: writing letters about our reactions to the current coronavirus situation and how we are dealing with it – to be read by MIT students and maybe others five years hence (and maybe beyond).

We were approached because our class was so affected in our senior year 50 years ago, by the November Actions, Vietnam protests, the student strike and related Kent State killings, and other matters – and also because of the unusual circumstances this year which have resulted in the postponement of our 50th reunion.

As one of Karen’s former journalism colleagues put it, as we write our letters, we should think of ourselves as “historians of the moment,” and talk about things we are thinking and noticing, large and small. What are the details that are not going to make it into the big reports about the virus and its impact on us, in the United States and elsewhere?

Below are some questions that you might want to answer. But feel free to head in other directions that move you. Do not feel that you need to answer each and every question – or any of them.

  • Are you sheltering in place? With how many others? Where?
  • When did you start taking the virus very seriously and what made it become more serious to you?
  • How fearful are you for your own life and for the lives of others whom you know?
  • Have you lost any friends or family members to the virus?
  • Has the sheltering in place left you feeling melancholy or depressed?
  • Has the virus left you feeling helpless, and if so, is that an unusual feeling? How do you deal with it?
  • Are you helping others in any way? Are others helping you? If so, how?
  • How are you organizing your life? What do you find are your best diversions?
  • Do you think your life will be very different after the virus is totally past? And if so, in what way?
  • When do you think your country and the world will be safely past this pandemic?
  • How does this social challenge compare to others you have faced in your life, both while at MIT and later?
  • What have you learned over your lifetime from dealing with major social disruptions?
  • Did your MIT education prepare you in any way for this unusual pandemic period?
  • What perspective or advice would you offer to younger people, particularly college age, about facing big social challenges together?

The letter can be as short or as long as you wish, a paragraph or two or a page or two or three. Feel free to add photos. The letters can be handwritten and then uploaded or typed in.

Thanks for your help.

Karen Arenson ’70 and Steven Carhart ‘70