RESIDENCE DESIGN CONTEST PROPOSAL
JANUARY 29, 1999
Joseph Cirello Ď01
Puja Gupta Ď00
Cynthia Johanson Ď01
Ticora Jones Ď00
Helen Lee Ď00
Jenny Lin Ď02
Anand Ramakrishnan Ď01
Jason Sharma Ď00
Brian Wong Ď99
When a future MIT student opens his acceptance letter to MIT, what does he expect for the next four years of his life, and what ideals convinces him that MIT is the best choice? Academics? Research? Community? Or perhaps a combination of the three?
Since 1865, thousands of students have made that choice, and many have expressed their faith in what is now known as the Educational Triad. However, along the way, many have come to realize that MIT falls short of their expectations in many respects. For over 130 years, those concerned individuals have taken on leadership positions to help mold and develop MIT into the academically prominent and independent institution it is today, but recent events now require the application of systematic methods to efficiently bring on change.
In January of 1999, the entire MIT community was challenged to help design a residential system consistent with the principles embodied by the Task Force of Student Life and Learning. To this end, our team, composed of LeaderShape graduates from Da Bomb family, hoped to incorporate our knowledge, dedication, and common vision of a better MIT to create a feasible plan embodying the following principles:
As an entirely student run group, our diversity with regards to residence, ethnic background, sexuality, and gender was of utmost importance for the proper representation of the MIT student community. Moreover, interviews conducted with several faculty members, deans, staff members, students, and parents provided valuable input from the rest of the MIT community. Finally, consultation of past steering committee reports including the IFC, the Dining Committee, Principles of MIT residence system (the Clay Committee), the Faculty Committee on Student Housing, the Lewis Commission, and the Potter Report helped clarify what the current MIT community wanted to change, and how past committees had hoped to implement their ideas. Principles, traditions, and knowledge from the many collective years of MIT community members were considered and incorporated into the finalized plan described in this report.
In creating this plan, we hope to develop an environment at MIT that fosters growth for all of its members, but also challenges its members. By finding the proper medium between diversity and choice, students at MIT should be able to deal with responsibility and maturity for making wrong choices, but also have a flexible system for correcting that choice. To this end, we hope to instill the ideals outlined by the Task Force in MIT students, such that they may become self sufficient and graduate MIT with a well-rounded education that will prepare them for life. Finally, in order to make this all possible, our proposal takes careful measures to not alter what currently makes MIT great.
Our plan is divided into three sections. The first section, on dining, residences and rush, explains new ways of incorporating choice and diversity (of both ethnicity and personality) within the residence system, as well as utilizing MITís unused property to develop a stronger community. The second section, pertaining to faculty members, graduate students, education, and advisors, suggests ways to cater to their needs in the context of our residence proposal. The final section, connectivity, brings all of the MIT community together by suggesting ways for our system to unify campus life and also provide a means through which to maintain, analyze, and update the system.
This proposal attempts to provide an objective look at MITís current environment, to identify its strengths and weaknesses, and to offer recommendations for change. Although we are confident in our proposal, it is also with certainty that we expect opposition. Therefore, what is most important to this plan is not the specific concepts, but rather the fact that it needs to be presented positively to the future MIT community. If we can all agree that the new system will benefit the MIT community, and if we all choose to look with optimism upon the ideas at hand, then a system fostering positive growth will inevitably result.
DINING, RESIDENCE, AND RUSH
It is our belief that the dining system at MIT should be nutritious, affordable, convenient, and offer a diverse array of culinary options. This dining system should also encourage social interaction among members of the MIT community. The current system includes five on-campus-dining facilities - Lobdell, Walker, Networks, Next House, and Baker House. Students also have the option of purchasing meals from the food trucks and LaVerdes or cooking in the dorms. At this time, no meal plan exists because students utilize a debit card system. Positive aspects of the current system include freedom of choice from the constraints of a prescribed meal plan, which may be more expensive than a debit card. The Walker Grab-to-Go cart, the Building 12 coffee house, and breakfast carts in Burton and Next House also offer convenient services for students running to classes. Networks operates long hours and fosters a comfortable social environment. On the other hand, the food is generally unhealthy, bland, and expensive. Hours of most dining facilities are not compatible with schedules of students who cannot eat until late, such as athletes. Walker and Lobdell are too small for the amount of people that may pass through during peak hours of operations.
Our group fully supports all of the plans outlined in the Institute Dining Review. There are three main points we would like to highlight at this time. First of all, the campus should be divided into two dining zones: West and Central campus. Competing vendors should be contracted to provide dining services for each zone, therefore encouraging a healthy competition for customers resulting in better food for the community. Second, cafeterias should also be opened in McCormick, MacGregor, Ashdown, and Burton Conner. For the dorms without cafeteria facilities (East Campus, Random, Bexley, Senior House, New, Eastgate, Westgate, Green, Edgerton, and Tang), the students should have the option of using a food co-op programs with cooking classes. Third, community dinners, such as those that have taken place at Pritchett for East Campus residents, should be implemented into all of the dorm communities.
Positive aspects of this system include preservation of choice, increasing variety of options, and affordable, convenient, and healthy meals. Having two competitors should drive down currently inflated prices and result in higher quality of food. For instance, a goal suggested in the dining review is to provide an entree, side, and drink for five dollars. We fully support such an ambitious pricing scheme, although we hope that the drink in the meal includes an option for milk. As for the community dinners, thus far, they have had a great success in building stronger ties between students and GRTs. Since dining is such an integral part of a community, we should utilize it as a way to foster a more unified MIT.
The MIT housing system should foster a sense of community, and provide a safe atmosphere for learning, exploration, and personal growth. After their MIT experience, students should be equipped with basic interpersonal skills. Currently, when students first arrive at MIT, they are put in temporary housing. The following week is an intense period of combined Rush and Orientation, after which students must decide where they would like to live for the next four years by either joining an FSILG or entering a lottery which has been 85% effective in granting top three choices of housing. After entering a dorm, each dorm has its own way of allocating rooms to the students. Graduate housing is also through a lottery system. However, although the majority of the MIT student body is comprised of graduate students, only about 30% get institute housing of an interested 50%. Grad students also have the option of moving into undergraduate dorms as Graduate Residence Tutors. The majority of the faculty lives off campus unless they are housemasters.
Positive aspects of the current system include the preservation of choice, diversity of living styles, and a sense of community pride. This system is particularly unique in that students have the option of living with either those who are completely different from themselves or very similar to their personal styles. Dorm rush has long been viewed as an intense, but treasured MIT tradition. MIT has one of the nationís highest residence satisfaction rates: 93% for FSILGs and 70% for dorms.
Negative aspects of this system include the high levels of stress that comes with having to make such a significant decision in such a short period of time with little previous knowledge about the individual dorms or FSILGs. Being temporarily housed as a freshman has been cited as one of the most traumatizing experiences when coming to MIT. It is a terrible way to be introduced to college life, especially if the freshman is housed in a single and isolated from the rest of their class and community. Also, the current system encourages the new students to find ways by which they are different in their first week on campus, therefore factioning the class and crippling class unity. Furthermore, since permanent housing decisions are made so rapidly and without much guidance, many freshman neglect to step out of their comfort zones and take advantage of the diversity of MIT. Not only is moving socially viewed as being unpopular and a hassle, the logistics of physically switching dorms is very complicated and difficult. In terms of the shortcomings cited above, MIT has much space for improvement in the dormitory system.
Our team proposes a system that would foster strong freshman class pride, provide a caring, diverse atmosphere, and create MIT community unity and alleviate current housing problems for graduate students. Ideally, in the long run, we would like to see all freshmen housed in a common dorm(s) with their own dining hall. We support the current plan to build several dorms along Vassar Street surrounding Briggs field to create a central Quad for undergraduates. These new dorms would solely house the freshmen class and their Resident Tutors. This way, the Institute may host specialized programs for the new freshmen that upperclassmen may not be interested in, such as a seminar on the history of the Institute. Also, we recommend that the rooming setup be those of two-room doubles. This plan is based off a successful one in a Harvard freshmen dorm, in that two students of the same gender share a two room suite. The suite has one phone line and a door opening to the hall for each room. Therefore, if two roommates do not get along, then they have the option of creating two cooperating singles. If they do get along, they can set up their room to have a study-room with the desks and a sleeping-room with the beds. Overall, the freshmen dorms should be based on halls instead of suites, and freshmen have the option of living on a single-gender or co-ed hall. This way, interaction within the class is encouraged, and the freshmen will have a chance to develop a solid bond with others. Then, when the freshmen must move out at the end of the year, they will have friendships and pride within their class. This bond, which they will hopefully take with them to their next residence, will help unify the MIT community because upperclassmen interaction will exist as well as intraclass unity.
Also in the plan is the converting of Vassar Street to a pedestrian walkway lined by trees and benches. University Park and Cambridge-port MIT owned land could be affordably leased to grad students and faculty members to bring them closer to campus and encourage interaction out of the classroom. Ashdown should eventually become an undergraduate dorm; Tang, Westgate, and Eastgate should remain as graduate dorms. Since we realize the breadth of such a proposal, we have planned an intermediate phasing period.
During this phasing period, freshmen will choose where they would like to live before arriving at MIT. They will have the choice of living in a freshmen dorm or with upperclassmen. Admitted students will be given a housing card and detailed information about each dorm over the summer. On this card, they will be allowed to indicate their preferences for a dorm and living habits (e.g. smoking). The freshmen dorm will consist of two Undergraduate Residence Tutors and one Graduate Residence Tutor for every forty freshmen. The URTs and GRTs will be extensively interviewed and trained; their incentives will include free housing and special facilities. At the end of the first year, the freshmen will be allowed to choose where to live for the next three years. A non-residential FSILG rush will still occur during Orientation for three days to integrate the freshmen class to MIT.
We expect some resistence from the upperclassmen on the randomized housing of freshmen into their dorms. However, this is an unavoidable setback that will disappear after the phasing-in has ended. Upperclassmen should be encouraged to accept the freshmen in their dorms as if they were rushed from the beginning. These freshmen would be given the same no-condition moving option at the end of the year as their freshmen-dorm counterparts.
Positive aspects of the freshmen dorm include preservation of choice (albeit delayed), strong class spirit, and a less stressful freshman experience. Since all freshmen will move after the first year, they will be able to make more informed choices of living groups and help break down the social stigma against moving. Expansion will alleviate crowding and could even provide a flex space for housing students during future renovations of buildings. Upperclassmen interaction and mentoring will still be present through Rush, tutoring, and an extensive advising system. However, upperclassmen interaction through advising is fundamentally different from that of actually living together. In addition, the stress related to temporary housing for freshmen will be eliminated. Since housing will be determined before freshmen arrive on campus, they will know their housing assignments and roommates. This will allow them to communicate with their roommates over the summer.
FSILGs, R/O, and Cultural Housing
MIT has long valued its traditional housing system for undergraduate education, but recent events have made it necessary to update the existing system and the selection process by students. Currently, R/O is a weeklong program whereby students arrive at MIT and become acquainted with the various clubs, organizations, students, and opportunities that exist at school. They are also given a chance to look at dorms and FSILGS and select where they would like to live.
Unfortunately, as taken from Final Report of the MIT Advisory Group on Orientation and Residence:
ÖMany faculty believe that the current residence system obstructs the academic orientation of new students to the university and leads to a singular loyalty to the living group at the expense of a lack of substantive intellectual connection to the academy. On the other hand students widely believe that faculty put little effort into building relationships with students, and furthermore, fail to understand that living groups provide the support network essential to students, beginning in the fall of the freshman year.
This problem can be resolved through better faculty/student interaction (later discussed) and more effective orientation policies.
Next, there is general consensus that in recent years orientation activities have languished, in part because of the difficulty of competing with the intensity of the residence selection component of R/O. Moreover, many complain that the current rush system fosters homogeneity and isolation by students. Finally, since students must now all reside on campus by 2001, it is obvious that the current system needs reworking.
To improve the current Rush/Orientation system, several ideas can be decided upon through extensive research. First, since 93% of FSILG members are either satisfied or very satisfied with their living situation, the current rush system appears valid. Moreover, in accordance with the IFCís report on "Freshman on Campus in 2001," we are in full support of a system that stresses an early rush in the fall, as it now exists. Thus, we propose a non-residential rush in the fall that will go along with orientation.
By this, FSILGs will be able to maintain their current method of rushing freshmen over the summer. They will also maintain the ties and connections that are formed during that period, considering that the significance of student body-wide interaction during rush is often undervalued. Moreover, the students will not have had time to develop inaccurate stereotypes about the houses, and will thus be able to make educated and unbiased choices because of the current "gag rule." In terms of upperclass involvement, rush would then be finished before classes begins, and freshman would also be able to go through a pledge program (integral to MITís unique and successful system) while still on pass/no-credit. This would avoid the shortcomings of an IAP rush which include requiring all students to return to MIT early, and may possibly scare off freshmen who became "burnt outí after the first semester. It is for these same "burnt out" reasons that pass/no-credit is in place, and also why FSILGs help their members to survive MIT.
On a similar note, since FSILGs will no longer have freshmen residents, Cultural Houses should also be considered on the same in terms, and become FSILGs and have non-residential rushing concurrently with the FSILGs. Chocolate City exists as a dorm, but members select the students who will live there. Preferential treatment should not be given to these houses over FSILGs. If Cultural Houses request their own house independent of the MIT dorm system, MIT should help them find an off-campus house as they do now (a recent example being the new Sigma Kappa house).
For the rush process, we support the one day required period between bid receiving and acceptance, as well as the new Residence Midway. However, we do believe that freshman who want to hear from FSILGs should hear from all of them over the summer, rather than ones they select, since their knowledge of the FSILGs is highly influenced and easily misinformed before arriving on campus.
With regards to sorority rush, which is determined by the Panhellenic Association, sororitiesí rules should be changed to make their rules more similar to Fraternity and ILG rush. On one note, fraternity member satisfaction is much higher than sorority member satisfaction, and by allowing sorority open houses and trips, women will get an accurate and realistic idea of what each sorority has to offer. No overnighting should be allowed since some sororities are non-residential. However, the residences of many sororities are what characterize them, so trying to equalize all sororities by forcing group clustering is simply dishonest to the freshmen. Open houses should be allowed for one and a half days. During this time, sororities may take rushees on trips as determined by the Panhellenic Association. Because of the importance of rush parties, theme and preference parties will still be allowed after the open houses. Affiliated women will be allowed to talk to freshman at any time as long as they are not talking about rush. This would make a friendlier environment for entering freshwomen. All these changes will also help equalize the male and female rush experiences at MIT.
Upperclassmen should also be allowed to rush with freshmen if they wish, as the current system allows. Since one-third of those who rush do not receive bids, and because many students mature and develop after a year at MIT, there are many upperclassmen who might be interested in joining a house, and the FSILGs should continue to be willing to give them a chance. Also, if upperclassmen rushed during IAP, houses would be strapped to conduct two separate rushes, and upperclass pledging might be ineffectual due to being on grades.
To establish a more effective Orientation, we recommend for dorm rush to occur near the end of freshman year. This way, students opting not to rush can take full advantage of orientation, while all students will no longer need to prioritize their time between dorms, FSILGs, and orientation. Also, since all the freshmen will be living in a common dorm and will need to vacate for the entering class, every person in the class will have a chance to make an informed decision on where he would like to live for the next three years of his career at MIT. This will help retain enthusiasm for the FSILGs, Cultural Houses, and individuality among the upperclassmen dorms.
Orientation activities should also be changed. More "Project Adventure"-type activities should be implemented during orientation, to foster enthusiasm and create energy within orientation groups. The athletics tour should be shortened, and free trips to Boston landmarks, such as the MFA or the Museum of Science, should be sponsored to help familiarize students with the city. Also, orientation groups should be composed of students who share an advisor (i.e., a seminar group), and run by a common associate advisor, so freshmen will feel comfortable with a group of people who share a common interest and they will get to meet people with who they will spend their entire semester. This will allow students in orientation groups to get to know each other, and requires orientation leaders/associate advisors to go through extensive training. Orientation should still consist of three days of orientation and three days of rush. Best of all, due to the non-residential rush, after R/O ends, the students will still be together on campus, fostering unity in the freshmen class.
Finally, the pre-orientation programs are becoming increasingly influential in encouraging diverse interactions within the class. With the current existence of the Freshman Leadership Program and the Freshman Service Program, as well as with the recent creation of the Freshman Arts Program and Freshman Outdoors Program, the newly admitted students are offered a variety of summer activities in which they can participate. After determining the success of these new programs, we hope to determine whether making them mandatory would be beneficial. By offering programs staggered throughout the summer, as well as offer alternative programs (i.e. the Freshman Culinary Program), even those who prefer to return early for athletics will have an option of attending a program.
FACULTY MEMBERS, GRADUATE STUDENTS, ACADEMICS, AND ADVISORS
Creating a sense of community at MIT implies linking in the graduate students as well as the undergraduate students. It is important that the graduate and undergraduate students interact because each group can bring forth a particular skill set and background.
The lack of a social center for the graduate students is very detrimental to the development of a strong sense of community among graduate students. The current graduate-housing situation hinders the progressive movement toward a united MIT community. Fifty percent of graduate students request housing on campus while only thirty percent are granted housing. The creation of the new graduate dorm in University Park will help satisfy these students housing needs. A possibility that is currently being planned and is supported by our team, is to eventually house graduate students in the area north of Vassar St. and the train tracks, and to turn the graduate dorm Ashdown into an undergraduate dorm. In essence, the area north of the tracks will be graduate and south of the tracks will be undergraduate.
Keeping the graduate and undergraduate dorms separate allows each of the communities to develop. Although the separation may be thought of as leading to segregation of graduates and undergraduates, it is pertinent in order to permit the development and privacy of each. More graduate student satisfaction will result from the creation of the new dorms and the new complex north of Vassar St.
For most students, MIT will be the most challenging place they will experience. Freshmen come in lacking direction regarding their future as well as their personal development. They often feel as if they were "thrown" into an environment that offers no security. In such a chaotic environment, a strong formal advising structure is necessary for the success of all students.
The advising system can be thought of as two sub-structures, where some advisors play a role primarily in the studentsí residence life and other advisors are academically oriented. In residences, students usually have a Graduate Resident Tutor (GRT) and students living in dorms can count on having a faculty act as housemaster. The ratio of GRTs to students is typically one to forty (i.e. typically one GRT per floor or entry of a dorm). GRTs primarily have the role of assisting students when they are adjusting to their new social environment, and often a new academic environment as well. The administration has helped to provide advising through the Freshmen Advising Seminar program. About ninety-five percent of freshmen enroll themselves in a seminar, with an average size of about fifteen students, conducted by a freshmen faculty advisor and an associate advisor. Freshmen that choose to not enter a seminar program are also assigned a freshman advisor and an associate advisor.
The residential advising system currently places people who represent authority figures in place to prevent rowdiness and other misconduct. Although this allows freshmen to assume more responsibility for their actions, less advising seems to be taking place. Freshmen hardly ever report that they feel babied by their respective GRTs, but it is often said that most GRTs are either apathetic or unskilled, or, as in some unfortunate situations, the GRT is both. For those living in dorms, interaction with the housemasters is also minimal and would not necessarily count as an accessible source for advising. Students generally see their housemasters more as administrators than advisors because there are a limited number of opportunities for students to interact with them on a personal basis.
The academic or non-residential based advising system has done a good job in allowing participants in the freshman advising seminar program to explore their interests and interact with faculty that they would not have met otherwise. Another good thing is that this program provides interaction with undergraduate associate advisors who can easily relate to the adviseeís situations, having had the freshmen experience recently. Unfortunately, the freshmen seminar programs can sometimes lead to less advising and towards more coursework-related activities when the faculty member leading the seminar chooses a more formal framework. This leads to fewer opportunities for meaningful interaction in the seminar. The current academic based advising system also leaves something to be desired in terms of graduate student advising. Currently, graduate students cannot specifically advise undergraduates unless there is a program in the major that explicitly encourages such an interaction.
Besides these sources of advising, other sources do exist. Another source of advising available both for academic and social adaptation to MIT come from the faculty, administration (UAA), and other students that make up the MIT community. However, while students who make the extra effort can often find meaningful advice through these informal avenues, students should be provided with good enough advising that they should not need to search for effective advising on their own.
More opportunities for students to interact with their advisors will lead to overall higher guidance for the undergraduate student body. However, these meaningful relationships require more informal interaction time. In our proposed system, the GRT in the freshmen dorm will carry the same function as he does now, but he will also work with two Undergraduate Resident Tutors (URT) per forty advisees. The URTís and GRTís under the new proposal will go through rigorous training before beginning, and will continue to go through ongoing training as the year passes, as well as committing a year to the program. Only seniors who " know the ropes" well could become URTs, and they will be screened through an interview process for their eligibility. A new position of non-student House Social Secretary should be created within every living group, serving to handle logistics and execute social activities recommended by students; therefore, the secretary will help the dorm community form by assuming some of the tedious responsibility that the Institute currently expects the students to bear. We also recommend a system of "Family Advising", which will consist of eight undergraduates: two from each class. As two seniors leave, two new freshmen will move into a family. Not only will this provide some continuity to the advising system for all students, but this would also provide for more inter-class unity.
The introduction of the URT in the freshmen dorms will create a higher ratio of Resident Tutors to students, therefore increasing personal attention to each freshman. A House Social Secretary, working under the House Manager, will help facilitate the progress of many social activities, decreasing the workload for students, and helping "make things happen" with less obligation on the part of the students.
Freshmen seminars are essentially the instrument through which advising at MIT occurs today. In groups of fifteen, freshmen with a common interest are assigned to a faculty and a student academic advisor. For those students who choose not to take any seminar, a faculty member and associate advisor is assigned to them. In addition to modifying current seminars, a possible "Conversations You Can't Have on campus" seminar bi-weekly seminar held by the GRTís and URTís on race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual identity are a possibility.
A proposed solution to help relationships last, is to make the MOYA groups our advising groups as well. After "breaking the ice" with students through MOYA, the students can further peruse relationships with acquaintances at the weekly seminar meetings. The MOYA leaders will continue on to become freshman seminar associate advisors and through the relationships made MITís community will be stronger.
One of MITís biggest assets is its prestigious faculty and administration. If a student leaves MIT without interacting with the faculty and staff on a personal level, he leaves without taking full advantage of what distinguishes MIT.
Currently, MIT students are leaving these precious resources untouched. The main reasons should be addressed. First, MIT is viewed more as a research institution rather than a teaching institution. This is apparent in the effort some professors give to their research relative to the effort given to effectively educate their students. Another reason for the lack of interaction is although many faculty members would like to interact more with their students, then want to do so without appearing to have the wrong intentions. The other root cause for the lack of interaction is the distance between faculty housing and student housing. To break the existing barrier between faculty and students, there is a plan for MIT to provide cheaper housing in Cambridgeport for faculty members and graduate students. We support this development because it can bring the faculty closer to the students. This would allow for more informal meetings between students and faculty, such as dinners between advisers and advisees, as well as encouraging the faculty to attend student events.
The last issue is the manner by which the student body currently interacts with the administration and faculty. The administrationís current role is that of a link between students and faculty rather than being a source of support for the students. The faculty should be encouraged to assume more of the responsibility for interacting with students. This will allow for the administration to focus less on acting as a segway to students and more on directly supporting students.
With an increase in the interaction between students, faculty, administration, and alumni, the MIT community will begin to become the envisioned tight knit community it should be.
This section focuses principally on the issues that, albeit they are important, do not fit under the specific categories above. Rather, their purposes are to help connect the campus and unify the community.
Satellite Medical Center
A satellite Medical Center should exist at the Student Center. It will be open 24- hours a day and contain basic medical supplies used by a nurse. This satellite will contain information on basic illnesses especially alcohol prevention.
MIT Campus Police
The MIT campus police would have more power in the Boston area where MIT FSILGs are located. We support hiring new police officers to patrol the FSILG area. To foster good relations, the MIT police should work closely with the BU police.
New EMT drivers should be hired to respond to health emergencies; specifically, alcohol or drug related emergencies. This would eliminate the problem of students fearing calling the police due to criminal prosecution.
An increase in Saferide hours will help the campus connect in that the long distances between factions of the student body will be linked.
A common place where all students feel comfortable and can interact in a non-academic and non-residential area will help foster student unity. At this time, the Student Center, as it is, does not encourage interaction as Student Unions do at other schools since large common areas where students can freely interact are not available.
The MIT campus has traditionally been very supportive of the academics, with providing many resources and areas for the studies. However, there is not much in the line of encouraging interactions outside of classes. With this shortcoming in mind, we recommend that the Student Center be modified to better serve the student body as a whole, and not individually. Also, we recommend a larger and better-equipped weight room with no fee as a forerunner in improving athletic facilities overall in resources and availability.
A large gap in the facilitating students with their workload is the unavoidable twenty-four hour days many experience during the term. However, the campus facilities do not conform to these study habits. Considering the focus on academics, a student should have the option of letting his workload control his study habits, rather than the hours of availability for crucial resources. To help students with their packed schedules, at least a library and a convenience store should be open twenty-four hours, every day. Many alumni expressed shock when they learned that this was not the case on campus today.
Unfortunately, many students leave MIT without looking back, and school spirit is low. One way to improve Institute Pride is to find an official school rival that is local, such as Tufts University, which will help unify the campus during athletic events against that school. This is a crucial part of the student experience that is missing from MIT, because almost every other school in the country has these unifying traditions. Also, more campus-wide activities, such as pep rallies, Homecoming, and formals, will help bring the community together in the name of the school, not in the name of their respective living groups. Other campus-wide activities that could be sponsored by the Institute include game days, random study breaks, more community service days, and expanding MIT cable to bring campus news to the community.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a world-wide reputation as a leader in the academia. Unfortunately, the Institute today does not have the unity that would let each of its community membersí proudly announce that they were a part of MIT. The Residence Design Contest has the capabilities to change this, because the student life and coinciding satisfaction, or lack thereof, can change this campus.
Every part of the campus is influenced by every other part. For example, alumni satisfaction is directly related to current student satisfaction through many means, such as financial support or experience-based advising. Another example is current student satisfaction effect on the faculty, in that a more satisfied student body could bring a more positive response to the Institute in general, and this would bring a more positive response from the world community to the academic community at MIT.
Everything is connected, and our team tried to take this into account during our deliberations. A key factor in our decisions was how to preserve what makes MIT unique while making it better. On our list of unique aspects of MIT was the ability to have choice and assume responsibility. However, the gray area concerning this aspect is how to decide when too much choice or too little choice exists, and if those choices should even be presented.
Our team is confident that the proposal before you has defined the gray areas in such a way to lead MIT into the millennium without losing what makes it so great while gaining what could make it better. However, our group chose not to address every issue relating to a MIT student. We realize that a group can not solely make decisions that will affect as large a community as MIT; instead, we can only create the guidelines within which that community can develop. Therefore, we decided to outline the guidelines which we would like the new MIT community to be built upon.
In order to ensure that these guidelines are appropriate, however, we propose for numerous MIT-wide satisfaction surveys to be executed before and during the implementation. We also propose that a well-respected and empowered watchdog committee, composed of representatives from each faction of MIT with an emphasis on the student body, to monitor the surveys, judge if a change is appropriate, and if so, what should be done. This way, the committee will have the resources to decide if the current situation is more beneficial to the community members than the situation before implementation, and it will also have the power to act directly upon their decisions.
We have faith that the students, faculty, administration, and alumni of MIT will be able to take our suggestions and create a community that will best serve themselves and those around them. We hope that this project is a precedent for more intra-community interaction, and that it will lead to others like it in the future.
"Articles about the undergraduate residential system" (MIT Faculty Newsletter, November/December 1997."
MIT Faculty Newsletter, Volume X, number 3, November/December 1997.
Bates, Margaret. Dean for Student Life. Personal interview. By Puja Gupta and Jenny Lin. 19 Jan 1999.
"A Brief Summary of the MIT Fraternity System." Online. Internet. http://web.mit.edu/residence
/systemdesign/fratsys.html: 18 Jan 1999.
Cirello, Joseph and Christine. Parents of Joe Cirello, MIT class of '01. Telephone interview. By Joe Cirello.
26 Dec 1999.
Desovich, Tracy. Health Educator for Students. Personal interview. By Jenny Lin. 25 Jan 1999.
"Final Report of the MIT Advisory Group on Orientation and Residence." MIT Presidential Task Force on
Student Life and Learning. MIT. 5 Dec 1997.
"The Freshman Deanís Office for Harvard University." Online. Internet. http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~fdo: 20 Jan 1999.
"Graduate Resident Tutor Job Description and Application." Online. Internet. http://web.mit.edu/residence
/systemdesign/grt.html: 18 Jan 1999.
"Guide to Resources: Racial, Ethnic, and Intercultural Relations." MIT Committee on Campus Race
Relations. MIT. 1998/1999.
"Housing for Undergraduate Men, Chapter III: Objectives and Goals for a Residential System (MIT Planning
Office, 1965)." Online. Internet. http://web.mit.edu/residence/systemdesign/housing3.html: 18 Jan 1999.
"Institute Dining Review, Final Report (1997)." Online. Internet. http://web.mit.edu/residence/systemdesign
/fswg-rpt.pdf: 18 Jan 1999.
Kim, Eli. Sophomore, MIT. Personal interview. By Jenny Lin. 11 Jan 1999.
Lee, Elissa. MIT Class of '97. Telephone interview. By Joe Cirello. 26 Jan 1999.
Lin, Jocelyn. Sophomore, MIT. Personal interview. By Jenny Lin. 12 Jan 1999.
Liang, Chi-Yu. Sophomore, MIT. Personal interview. By Jenny Lin. 25 Jan 1999.
McMahon, Joseph. Phi Sigma Kappa Chapter Advisor, MIT class of '85. Personal interview. By Joe Cirello. 28 Jan. 1999.
"The MIT House Fellows Program." Online. Internet. http://web.mit.edu/residence/systemdesign
/housefellows.html: 18 Jan 1999.
Novak, Eric. Associate Planning Officer. Personal interview. By Cynthia Johanson. 26 Jan 1999.
"Preliminary Report of the IFC Working Group on Freshmen on Campus in 2001." IFC Committee. MIT. 2
"Principles for the MIT Residential System (Clay Committee, 1998)." Online. Internet. http://web.mit.edu
/residence/systemdesign/housing_principles.html: 18 Jan 1999 .
Potter, Mary. Brain and Cognitive Science Professor, Chair of 1990 Potter Report. Personal interview. By
Joe Cirello. 27 Jan 1999.
Reichert, Chris. MIT Class of '96. Zephyr Interview. By Joe Cirello. 26 Jan 1999.
Sawhney, Nitin. Graduate Student. Personal interview. By Cynthia Johanson. 25 Jan 1999.
Singh, Arundhati. Sophomore, MIT. Personal interview. By Jenny Lin. 15 Jan 1999.
Siripong, Nalyn. Freshman, Wellesley. Email correspondence. By Jenny Lin. 21 Jan 1999.
Smith, Brian. Residential Advisor of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, MIT class of '95. Personal interview. By
Joe Cirello. 28 Dec 1999.
"Stanford's Freshmen Living Arrangements." Online. Internet. http://www.stanford.edu/dept/hds/has/newstu
/freshmen.html: 18 Jan 1999.
"Stanford's Residential Education Mission." Online. Internet. http://rescomp2.stanford.edu/selections/raselect
/mission.html: 18 Jan 1999.
"Stanford's Task Force on Residential Programs and Student Housing for UGís." Online. Internet.
http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/report/news/november19/task1119.html: 18 Jan 1999.
"Stevens Institute of Technology Middle States Self-Study." Online. Internet. http://attila.stevens-tech.edu
/selfstudy/resident.html: 18 Jan 1999.
"Strengthening the Residential Environment at LeHigh." Online. Internet. http://www.cc.lehigh.edu/~innmr
/reslifeorig.html: 18 Jan 1999.
Taris, Ann. Office of Career Planning and Preprofessional Services. Personal interview. By Puja Gupta. 25
"Task Force on Student Life and Learning." Task Force Committee. MIT. September, 1998.
Viskupic, Karen. Graduate Residence Tutor, McCormick Hall. Personal interview. By Puja Gupta and
Cynthia Johanson. 21 Jan 1999.
Weiner, Tobie. "Conversations you CAN'T have on Campus: Discussions about Race, Gender, Ethnicity, and
Sexual Identity." Taken fall, 1998.
Weiner, Tobie. Political Science Student Administrator. Personal interview. By Joe Cirello. 27 Jan. 1999.