Phillip A. Sharp <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It is difficult to express in few words thoughts about the role of the residential system in the life of an MIT student. Novels are written about more narrow topics.
Some of the more important aspects of a residential system are community, responsibility and learning. A residence should be designed to create a sense of community at various levels. The first level of creating a community is the student's immediate environment, such as the floor of his residence, the second should be the total residence, and the third should be the whole school. At present, MIT's facilities create great micro environments where groups of 25-50 students form a community. MIT's residences are not inductive to the formation of larger communities. A residence or group of residences that contain space and facilities to encourage the socializing of students and faculty from across the community would be a welcome addition.
Any MIT residence should encourage students to take responsibility for their surroundings and behavior. These responsibilities extend from the action of an individual to the decisions of a group. The residence should have an organizational sense drawing from the good aspects of a fraternity where students collectively make decisions and are responsible for executing them.
Finally, a residence should encourage and motivate students in their learning both individually and in small groups. Any academic community needs attractive quiet places for thought. In addition, most students learn from one another. Thus, areas for small groups to gather and work together on mastering a problem or concept are important.
What is the proper balance of time and influence from students, faculty and staff in creating, implementing and assessing the various educational elements of the residential system? A good structure can shape the social life which occurs within it. I believe the structure should be designed with input coming half from students and the rest shared equally between staff and faculty.
I hope these comments are useful.