MIT "Town Gown Report" to the City of Cambridge
In 1991, the Cambridge Mayor’s Committee on University and Community Relations called on the City's educational institutions to submit an annual “Town Gown Report.” These reports were to present the institutions’ current and future plans, statistics on their population, housing, academic facilities, land holdings, property transfers, real estate leases, tax payments for investment property, in lieu of tax payments for academic property, transportation policies, and a narrative outlining future campus planning and development.
In addition, the institutions were asked to address a number of key planning issues of concern to the City including housing, transportation, and environmental policies. MIT has submitted these reports for review by the Cambridge Planning Board and the City Council each year since this request was made.
The report often addresses how MIT's academic and research mission shapes campus physical development policies, so it is understandable that the faculty would have a vested interest in what is presented to the City.
The faculty, either at large or through its committees, have not been involved in the development of these reports. Nor have the reports been presented to the faculty and the MIT community-at-large prior to the submission to the City.
The faculty have not had the opportunity to reflect on the implications of the data and conclusions in these reports, including the policies guiding the physical development of the campus and its relationship to MIT’s academic and research mission.
This year’s report raises a number of critical questions concerning MIT’s changing demographics, housing policies for students, staff, and faculty, land acquisition, land use policies for the Institute’s limited land resources, and our future relationships with the City of Cambridge.
The absence of the information in these reports from the normal discourse between the faculty and the MIT administration gives new urgency to the need for a more active and transparent participation by the faculty in the preparation of these and similar documents reflecting the Institute’s plans. An informed and engaged faculty can only serve to strengthen the Institute's posture both within and beyond the Institute. The proposed Campus Planning Committee, reporting to the faculty, could serve as an excellent venue for discussions of the report.
The FNL will seek to provide the faculty with an analysis of the Town Gown Report in subsequent issues.