MIT prides itself on demanding the very best for all members of our community: students, staff and faculty. Our mission, after all, is to serve the nation and the world and to contribute to the “betterment of mankind.” With a charge as lofty as that, life at MIT—academic and otherwise—can be challenging. As Henry Kissinger once famously pointed out, “A diamond is only a chunk of coal that is made good under pressure.” You’re here because you are exceptional, and every day you are pushed to be more exceptional—by yourself, by your peers, by faculty.
Sometimes the pressure can be overwhelming. As I meet with students across the Institute, I hear many of you express feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. And perhaps it would surprise you to hear that many faculty members also on occasion experience such feelings. MIT is a tough place and, as our data shows, being a student here can take a toll on one’s self-esteem.
And yet I’m proud of the support infrastructure that the Institute has built over the years. I see the care with which our administrative offices work with you and, perhaps more importantly, I am heartened by the support that I see you providing to one another. You are individuals, with individual hopes, dreams, fears, and challenges, but you are also part of a community that cares for one another and is committed to everyone’s success and well being.
With an eye towards continuing to encourage a supportive and collegial environment, my office, in partnership with The Tech, will host an event the evening of Tuesday, February 12 entitled “Under Pressure: A Forum on Student Stress.” In the December 7 edition of The Tech, the editors did an outstanding job of articulating the challenges our students face in dealing with the pressures of MIT life. The forum is intended as an opportunity to continue the dialogue about these issues, to offer peer support, and to share information about resources available on campus. The event will run from 5:00 to 8:00 PM in Room 10-250. We’ll also break into smaller discussion groups to have more informal and action-oriented conversation.
An invitation will follow via email as you return to campus for the spring semester. In the meantime, I wish each of you a rewarding IAP experience (and some well-deserved rest) and look forward to seeing you soon.
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