Paul Lagace <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Imagine it is 2005. Describe a day in the life of an MIT sophomore. What will he/she do, with whom, where, to what end?
The alarm goes off in the room that Joe Sophomore shares with his roommate Miguel in the newest M.I.T. dormitory, To-Be House. This is Joe's second year in the dormitory. Although he did pledge one of the fraternities at the end of the Fall/IAP rush period during his freshman year, there was too much demand for in-house living from the fraternity brothers and Joe was not able to be accommodated. He has therefore remained a social member as he was during the second term of his freshman year. However, he is looking forward to his increased chances for being housed there next year since the selection process within the house increases chances with increased seniority. The fraternity is now located in Cambridge close to the Institute in the new FSILG area which was purchased several years ago and buildings refurbished and constructed. This was made possible when the fraternities bonded together, realized what their current buildings would bring on the real estate market and sought the help of the Institute to sell their current houses so that they could become a closer part of the new campus educational environment. The Institute chipped in a substantial fraction of the overall cost to make this a reality.
Joe quickly gets ready for his day and then heads downstairs to the dormitory cafeteria. On the way he passes through the kitchen and eating area available to the twenty students in his living area. He sees a few students there and says hi. He still has a difficult time recalling a couple of names. There are new faces here -- both because there are a few freshmen in the area as well as due to the fact that Joe still can't remember a couple of names of upperclassmen. Joe moved into this living area this year after he and Miguel, who was not his roommate last year, decided that there were multiple connections they had with this living area in the dormitory and they put their names in to live there during the room selection process of the dormitory held in the spring.
On the way towards Massachusetts Avenue, Joe walks by undergraduates he knows, a couple of graduate students he knows (mainly from being teaching assistants), and several faculty members including one who taught one of his GIR's the year before. He also recognizes a staff member from the Registrar's Office. It is a pretty full morning for Joe as he has lectures in the two basic subjects of his chosen major in which he is enrolled. The morning finishes with a HASS subject. He does have only an hour break for lunch but goes to the cafeteria at Baker House to eat when a friend of his in his 11:00 class asks him to come by. The faculty member of the 11:00 HASS class is also invited as are a couple of other students and they continue the discussion they had in class during their lunch. Joe has to leave to get back for his 1:00 class, but the discussion goes on. Joe has classes at 1:00 and 3:00 and spends the hour in between the two working on problem set material for this week in one of the student workrooms/lounges in his department with a couple of other students.
After his last class is done, Joe starts walking back to To-Be House but goes by the Student Center first. It is a beautiful fall day and students and some faculty are out on the steps talking, eating, and just relaxing. Joe sees some of his friends and sticks around for awhile after getting some ice cream from where-else (?). He then hustles back to his room to drop off stuff before going over to the fraternity for dinner for which he had signed up the day before. It was always a pleasure to have dinner at the house and tonight there was enough room that he was able to bring Miguel with him. When they arrive, there are a number of different activities going on -- people talking and playing pool in the front game room, a number of people huddled around an old episode of a 1990's TV show in another room, and several people talking about the day's events as they wait for dinner. As they proceed to have dinner a bit later, he notices that, as often occurs, there are several people he does not know around the table. It is always interesting to him to meet new people from around the Institute -- if only there were more time. Tonight there isn't as much time as he would like since Professor X from his large class is holding a help session at the new FSILG Activity Center which is part of this complex. There are always FSILG members from all around campus doing many things at the center, one of them being working on classes. Tonight this is aided by several help sessions going on in the rooms provided for such. Shortly after dinner he walks over with Miguel and his fraternity brother Jack. Jack is using the visual conference room tonight with several Institute colleagues who are working on a joint research project with undergraduates at Stanford.
After the help session, Joe and Miguel come back to the dorm where there is the usual night activities going on -- people having informal "bull" sessions, work groups in areas reserved for such on weekdays, people watching TV (it is Wednesday night and that is the best night of TV in 2005), and other things. Joe and Miguel stop and catch the hour show known as "the Institute" which is the new hit show on TV. They then retire to their room. Miguel has an early commitment in the morning, so he hits the bed, Joe finds his friend Nancy and they work on subject material for awhile. They also talk about the upcoming "Institute Celebration Weekend", one of two held each year where the campus as a whole, including alumni/ae, gets together and celebrates various accomplishments of the Institute and its people through a number of activities. Nancy is a member of the "Dance/Ball Committee". Last year Joe remembers there being almost 2000 people at this one event held in several close locations.
Finally, Joe calls it a night after a very busy and full day.
(NOTE: This may be somewhat "overdone", but it is done so to illustrate what the possibilities are. Maybe all of this would not occur in one day, but the possibilities should be there.)
It is first important to say that the faculty must play the controlling role in the overall design of this system. This comes from the responsibility that the faculty has for the education of the students. But it also means that student input must occur and must be carefully considered. This system will succeed only if all those who have a role to play (students, faculty, and staff) believe in the system and want to make it achieve. Thus, the controlling role of the faculty should be expressed as one where consensus is sought. It is the responsibility of the faculty to work with the students to achieve this consensus. Once the system is designed, the students should have a significant role in implementing the system. The goals and constraints and examples should be clear and the students should be involved in making these a reality. Faculty and staff must be a part of this as well in order to make this a reality. This overall community spirit cannot occur without faculty and staff participation. However, it is clear that the actual implementation and participation needs to be led by students. Finally, assessment should be made with the faculty in a controlling role (again, due to their overall responsibility for the education of the students) but with the students playing the lead role. This flows from the students playing the lead in the implementation and participation. This will allow them to more readily and directly assess while using the clear goals, constraints and examples reached by consensus and which are reevaluated and which evolve through a consensus process at well-defined intervals.
If there are any questions as to clarification or other aspects, do not hesitate to contact me.