The Residence System Implementation Team (RSIT) was charged in January 2001 by Deans Benedict and Redwine with implementing the key principles set forth in the report prepared by Chancellor Lawrence Bacow entitled, The Design of the New Residence System (December 1999).Conducting its work from January 2001 through December 2002, RSIT focused on designing and implementing a residential process to incorporate the principles from the Bacow Report and subsequently, evaluating the outcomes of the implementation process.
The key findings and outcomes based upon evaluation of the implementation of the new residence system are reported below under each of the seven operational principles.
•Providing meaningful opportunities for freshmen to participate actively in the process of selecting their residence
First year students reported a general satisfaction rating of 4.0 on a 5-point scale with the outcome of their housing selection process. They reported that they took the summer housing lottery process seriously (3.53 on a 4-point scale).In addition, 59% of the freshmen reported visiting other dorms once on campus to explore housing options. They rated the usefulness of the various sources of information in their decision-making process as follows:
• Guide to First Year Residences (3.43 on a 4-point scale)
• discussion with current and former students (3.14)
• the CD (3.09)
• Campus Preview Weekend (CPW) (2.92)
• residence activities (2.78)
•Respecting the diversity of cultures that exist throughout the residence system with special attention to the status of the theme houses
The Guide to First Year Residences, the CD and the house websites contained information developed by the students residing in each location in consultation with the housemaster.Additionally, the programs planned for the residence midway and in the individual houses were designed by each house team to reflect life in each house.The issue of theme houses is one that requires further study since their recruitment programs did not fill all houses.
•Striking a balance between accommodating the desire of some students who wish to know where they will live immediately upon arrival at MIT, and the desire of others who wish to be able to visit dormitories personally before expressing final preferences
The combination of building squatting without room squatting (in most residences) seemed to strike the balance for most first year students.
• all students (except for 2) received assignment to one of their top three choices in the summer lottery
• 82% of (eligible) new students opted to "squat" their summer assigned building
• of the 18% who requested a move in the adjustment lottery, 61% were reassigned by the lottery
• as of January 2003 only one student who requested a change has not yet been reassigned; she has deferred her request to the Spring
• students were generally neutral to "somewhat disagree" on feeling that "option to squat their room" would have helped them better acclimate to MIT; less than 20% felt strongly about the question.
•Ensuring that no student experiences rejection as their initiation to life at MIT
First year students rated that they felt very welcomed by MIT upon their arrival with a 3.46 on a 4-point scale.They rated 3.47 on a 4-point scale that they had a good network of support from other students.The number of reported roommate problems was very few, and some houses reported having no roommate issues.
•Respecting the existing house governance systems that match students to rooms, and in the process, help to create functioning communities
The Housing Office assigned freshmen to the buildings and the Room Assignment Chair (RAC) assigned the student to the specific room, as done in prior years.Since squatting was modified to apply only to the building, the RACs assigned all first year students to their specific room following the adjustment lottery.
•Enhancing the ability of parents and students to communicate during their first few days at MIT
Virtually no complaints were received from parents during the orientation period.
Having parents' orientation coincide with the students' orientation during the first weekend enhanced the ability of students and parents to communicate during the critical first days at the Institute.Almost half of the students indicated that their parents had no impact on their housing decision, and the other half viewed the impact as helpful.
•Providing liquidity within the housing system (i.e. providing the opportunity for students to move within the housing system without stigma)
All students have had the opportunity to move within the housing system.Only 44 students made a request to move following orientation (from 8/30/2002 - 12/20/2002).
The FSILG community adapted to the new residence system and modified their recruitment processes.First year students reported:
• connection with an FSILG during CPW (whether overnighting in an FSILG or having an FSILG host in the dorm) made them more likely to attend recruitment activities (63% of those overnighting attended FILG recruitment events)
• they would be significantly more likely to be interested in membership if FILG recruitment were held during the first two weeks of classes (40% of the males)
Upperclass FILG members indicated their preference for an earlier formal recruitment period.
In general, the residential process as designed and implemented accommodated all of the operational principles.First year students report, through a variety of evaluative indicators, general satisfaction with the overall system.Those involved with the implementation of the new residence process (namely, upperclass students, housemasters and administrators) generally agree that the overall framework designed for 2002 is effective, though varied opinions continue to exist regarding implementation strategies, improvements for the processes, and other logistical issues. Areas to be addressed for the coming years include:structure (including length of time) for the residence orientation program, timeframe for the formal aspects of the FSILG recruitment process, the issue of room squatting, strategies to support those under-subscribed theme houses, and ways to continue the communication, coordination and evaluation for future years.
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