Annamaria Torriani-Gorini <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is in response to the letter of December 29 seeking opinions on redesigning the MIT residence system; the following are opinions of my own. My thoughts are based on my 30 years of undergraduate teaching, my membership in the Committee on Discipline for many years, my continuing experience advising undergraduates, and my grandchildren (ages 10 and 11) who are possible MIT students of the future.
The young students arriving here suddenly find themselves to be independent grown-ups, no longer under the shelter of their family house and their parents' domain (not always a good thing, that influence). They need protective housing to give them the freedom to study the subjects they choose and to start to understand what a life career means, instead of just studying for grades as in high school.
The fraternities are a very bad substitute for family and friends. They are like medieval political clans of which the pledges become members for life. It is time to eliminate them. They have been the major sources of problems brought up for resolution by the COD.
MIT is a university. Teaching and studying are the fundamental important tasks. What is required is a solid, good faculty with excellent and expert assistants, tutors, and TAs. The students can be advised and can choose a curriculum they will like to develop and will enjoy studying about, which will be the basis of their future life. They need housing facilities where they can meet other students and build personal friendships. MIT should own and rent out enough apartments for all undergraduates who need it. The housing should be controlled by MIT housemasters (professors and their families) who should, but currently do not, actively and directly supervise the students' everyday (and night) life. The housemasters are the substitute parents: a heavy responsibility and a difficult task.