MIT Presidential Task Force
on Student Life and Learning
Section I: Orientation
Our current Orientation process is plagued with problems which arise from
its blended "R" and "O" format. By changing the structure,
improving the programming, and increasing the duration of Freshmen Orientation,
students will obtain a more positive and more accurate introduction to MIT.
(A) "R/O" Becomes "Orientation"
Lengthening Orientation by 1-2 days and moving the vast majority of orientation-type
activities before residence selection would:
- Allow freshmen more time to settle into their
new campus environment before experiencing residence selection.
- Separate "residence" from "orientation"
and thereby eliminate the "Dead Week" attitude and low participation
rates that are associated with our current freshmen academic orientation
- Promote the notion that residence selection
is only a subsidiary part of the MIT Orientation process.
(B) Increasing the Effectiveness
Suggested improvements to academic orientation include:
- Expand upon current programs (e.g. Core Blitz,
Meet the Profs, lab tours).
- Involve more faculty (see section below
on student-faculty interactions).
- Introduce new events (i.e. Faculty Panel.)
to stimulate intellectual excitement.
(C) Increasing the Scope
During Orientation, the Institute needs to educate incoming freshmen in a broader context so
that they can better adjust socially to the MIT college environment. 2 This can be accomplished through the development of:
- Workshops on issues facing today's college
student (e.g., diversity, harassment, alcohol awareness, etc.).
- A presentation on the counseling and support
services available to students (i.e. MIT Medical, MedLinks, Nightline,
Campus Police, etc.).
- A Deans Panel so that administrators
can express their on-going support and availability to students in need.
(D) Student-Faculty-Administration Commitment
Work collaboratively to continually improve the process by which
the Institute brings in its newest members by:
- Soliciting freshmen feedback every year in
the form of a post-Orientation survey.
- Creating a standing Orientation Advisory Committee
consisting of representatives from the student body, the faculty, and the
administration. This Institute committee's charge will be to refine Orientation
year after year by setting the guidelines the student-run Orientation (implementation)
Committee will work within.
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FSILG members are very much a part of the larger campus community. Recent
studies have shown that FSILG members, when compared to dorm residents,
are just as much involved in the MIT communityif not morethrough their participation
on athletic teams, student clubs and associations, and other campus activities.
This proposal aims to further encourage the MIT community spirit, generate
more excitement, and elicit more enthusiasm within the freshmen class during
A longer term proposal the Institute should consider is to:
(A) Increase the Excitement of Attending a World-Class Institution
Assemble an Alumni Panel of notable
MIT graduates each year to discuss with freshmen their post-graduation
experiences and the benefits an MIT education affords.
(B) Emphasize Commonalities Between MIT Students
...such as our independence (the responsibilities placed on each individual),
our traditions (e.g., hacks, brass rats), our common culture and themes
(e.g., MIT >> Hahvahd, etc.), and our devotion to and support provided
by our living groups, etc. A suggested orientation event would be a Students
(C) Design Orientation Events That Center Around Multiple Small Group Settings
(MOYA group, advising group, temporary residence assignment group). Repeated contact between freshmen within a
small group setting is the best way for them to meet others in their class.
(D) Leverage the success of the Freshmen Leadership Program
The satisfaction ratings of participants in the Freshmen Leaders
Program are phenomenal. 3 The Institute should examine the feasibility and desirability of multiple off-campus "Orientation camps" (structured similar
to FLP) which would allow all freshmen to experience the effective community-building
atmosphere of FLP.
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Meaningful student-faculty interaction requires year-round commitment from
both sides. Specific proposals to increase the level of faculty involvement
during Orientation include:
(A) Faculty Panel
...to speak on academic/research-related
matters so as to stimulate intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm.
(B) Freshman Advising Group/Cluster Dinners
(freshman advisors, associate advisors, and freshman advisees).
(C) Faculty-Student Pairings to Lead MOYA
(ice breakers, team-building exercises, etc.).
(D) Organized Tours
...of MIT labs, research centers, etc.with faculty members serving as tour guides.
(E) Help Faculty Gain A Better Understanding Of The Academic Orientation And Residence Selection Processes
...so that they can be better equipped to handle questions regarding not only academics
but residence selection as well. This may be attained by:
- Hosting individual advisor-associate advisor
meetings before the start of Orientation.
- Providing faculty advisors with information
regarding residence selection throughout the summer (RCA mailings, etc.).
A vast majority of FSILGs organize faculty dinners
through out the year to which, members of the MIT faculty are personally
invited. The faculty attendance at these functions, however, is quite low.
If the members of the faculty matched the efforts of the students, better
student-faculty relations would already exist. To further encourage on-going
student-faculty interaction, we propose the following:
(F) Joint IFC and Faculty Commitment to Revive and Expand the Living Group Faculty Advisor / House Fellows Program
...so that at least one interested faculty member is associated with every
living group. Aside from other activities, the faculty advisor/house fellow
- Advise freshmen and upperclassmen residents
alike on academic matters as appropriate.
- Act as a faculty liaison to facilitate the
sharing of information and concerns.
- Contribute to the intellectual and social
life of a living group through a variety of activities (i.e. informal dinners
at the house, participation in living group sponsored community service events, etc.)