Ed Seldin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am MIT's oral and maxillofacial surgeon in the Medical Department. I run a Freshman Advisor Seminar with a mechanical engineering theme and I do a lot of pre-medical and pre-dental advising. Thus, between clinical and advising roles, I have a lot of contact with MIT undergraduates. I got your questionnaire just before I left for a meeting in San Diego and am now in the throes of trying to catch up. I am also on the staff at MGH and am very involved with teaching and research there. It is 7:30 P.M. and this is the typical time that I get to address things like your document. I still have to return to the MGH to see patients and deal with other administrative matters, all of which irrelevancies I only mention to indicate that I have frustratingly few degrees of freedom with which to respond to your important undertaking - much as I would like to.
I am having great difficulties with the questions themselves: I must confess that I either don't understand them or don"t find them particularly interesting. In addition, the questions contain a number of implicit assumptions that I am not sure I agree with in the first case.
Thus, in 1), I am not sure I buy into the notion that the entire MIT experience should be used to educate the whole student. This sounds like micro-management and paternalism that may be stifling. I think a stimulating, rich, humane and safe environment needs to be provided for students but without undue intrusion or regimentation.
Regarding 4), The historical success of MIT students in finding jobs is an indicator of MIT's efficacy in prepairing students for the world. However, I feel that, depite the fact that most studentd find niches for themselves, this is not equivalent to a statement that MIT students get good vocational guidance. In fact I believe that students have very sketchy exposure to the range of possible vocations that should be open to unusually gifted students.
Re 5), responsibilities and privileges are not expected of people. Responsibilities are placed upon and privileges are conferred upon or awarded to individuals. What are you asking in this question? The question seems to be about the social contract that one would like to see at MIT and whether this is imposed or allowed to evolve with gentle guidance.
Despite my objections to the questions, I have a lot of strong feelings about the impact of the current MIT environment on undergraduates as I encounter them but I am at pains to know how to share these, for what they may be worth.