Correcting the Record of the GSC
To The Faculty Newsletter,
Thank you for raising the important issue of graduate student housing in last issue’s Editorial [MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XXX No. 1, September/October 2017]. However, we saw that some of the work and motives of the MIT Graduate Student Council (GSC) were misrepresented, and we would like to take this opportunity to correct the record. The GSC has been extensively working on graduate student housing for many decades, and that work will continue indefinitely. As you described, we recently intensified our work last spring, and our decisions on this matter, as in everything we do, have been guided by what we believe to be in the best long-term interest of MIT graduate students.
The following is a brief overview of our activity this year. At our June 7th General Council Meeting, we passed a resolution authorizing GSC Officers and Committees to advocate for graduate housing in conjunction with the Volpe site redevelopment. This resolution passed with a vote of 36 to 2, but it in no way suggested that a zoning petition was the most effective course of action, though that was one option we considered. To inform our advocacy, we completed a preliminary Graduate Housing Survey in July. The resulting data suggested there was significant unmet need for graduate housing not captured by the 2014 Clay Report or other Institute data sources.
We took our findings to the MIT administration and were encouraged to hear that they were already looking at graduate housing and were willing to jump-start the effort with a new Graduate Housing Working Group, announced August 3rd. We understand that some, including the FNL Editorial Board and a number of our graduate student colleagues, were not impressed with the promise of another working group on this important issue. However, we knew that an organized process would be needed to gather additional data and develop detailed plans for new graduate housing. We had our own concerns about the previous group and process that led to the Clay Report, but we had good reason to believe the new group would be the real deal. Its membership included key decision-makers and 50% graduate students, and it employed rigorous methodology to fulfill its broad but concrete charge.
The Working Group’s Interim Report confirmed additional need for graduate housing and offered insights on how to fulfill that need. The administration followed up with a significant commitment on October 16th to expand MIT’s graduate housing stock by 950+ beds over the 2016-2017 baseline. At least 500 of those beds will come from construction of a new graduate dormitory. The administration also committed to partner with the GSC to comprehensively review the graduate housing situation every three years, which will help ensure the issue remains a top priority at MIT.
We look forward to continuing our work to improve graduate student housing at MIT. Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions.