Candace Royer <firstname.lastname@example.org>Adulthood is a time of responsibility and privilege where issues such as finance, health and balance, shelter, citizenship, and values system definition are largely left to the individual to establish. Which responsibilities and privileges of adulthood should be expected of all members of the MIT community, and which should be developed over time for one or more segments? What must occur within the residential system to foster that development?
All of the questions that your group poses are of interest to me. But no one question is more important than this one, because to me, it is a question not only of MIT citizenship, but of personal, local, regional, national and international citizenship. What is more important or encompassing?
Because MIT graduates are very likely to become leaders in all of the communities listed above, their responsiveness to and understanding of family and community issues, values, and privileges could not be more important.
The Residence system is the perfect milieu in which to teach the responsibilities of community, of participation in government, of caring for humanity, of thinking of others as well as and as part of, oneself.
As I read about "residential colleges" that are being developed across the country, I think about all the wonderful, imaginative minds that could populate such places at MIT. I wonder if a residential college concept could be utilized to teach community values and participation, to bring students together who have common interests beyond academic pursuits?
While I do not have sufficient expertise to propose a specific plan for that of which I speak, I want to communicate a need to develop civic responsibility and humanism in our students. In my opinion, the notion of and interest in these principles is sorely lacking in conventional secondary educational institutions from which many of our students come to us. With the possible exception of spirituality, the two elements most deficient in our society and in our campus commuity are civility and civic awareness.
Imagine if MIT students, who become adult leaders, could be encouraged to think more about human needs and values? Imagine if these members of the local, regional, national, and international community COULD be taught to really CARE about their communities, natural environment, colleagues, and fellow man/woman? Would not the effects be enormous and enduring?
Faculty must, on a rotating basis, have a responsibility in the residential life of our students. MIT has allowed(encouraged?) tremendous autonomy and flexibility for its faculty. And, for the most part, that has served MIT well. However, I have long believed that junior faculty in their early promotional years could be encouraged through a refined tenure process, to offer some time to become familiar with our student body through participation in residence life activities.
The promotion journey could be seeded with such opportunities. Although I understand that MIT is a research institution first and foremost, we are also engaged in EDUCATION. We must attend to students, their needs, their growth, and their development during their time at MIT.
If faculty could be rewarded by the MIT promotions process for their involvement in campus life, if even a small component of the tenure process included involvement in campus activity, the vitality of this campus could be markedly improved. The real dividend to our faculty however, would come not so much in the tangible accolades associated with tenure, but in taking part in student life, and therefore in making a significant difference in our student's lives.