First look at DSL's spring agenda [Graduate Students]

February 06, 2018

Dear students,

On behalf of the entire Division of Student Life (DSL), welcome to what promises to be an exciting spring term! I want to share with you some key updates and priorities that DSL will be working on with students in the coming weeks and months (a comprehensive overview of our goals, mission, and organization is available here). If you have questions, thoughts, or concerns about DSL’s spring plans – or if you just want to check in, say hi, and grab a snack – please join me and other DSL deans along with our wonderful therapy dog Addie at open office hours on Fridays from 11 am to 12 pm in 4-110. We want to hear from you!

On-Demand Shuttles – After hearing from many students that late night transportation is spotty, I am happy to announce that, thanks to a lot of work by a group of students and staff, an on-demand shuttle pilot will start on February 12 that will complement the current Saferide system. The service will run from 11 pm to 2:15 am from Sunday through Wednesday, and 11 pm to 3:15 am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, replacing Saferide during those hours. Using a mobile app, students can request transportation from anywhere in the Saferide service area to their residences on or off campus. Visit www.translocrider.com to download the app, then watch for more information from the GSC on how to set it up. Congratulations to everyone who made this possible!

Important New Policies – As President Reif wrote in November, MIT is committed to preventing and responding to concerns of sexual misconduct. In addition to the new consensual relationships policy announced in January, the Title IX & Bias Response Office worked with students, faculty, and staff to update MIT’s sexual misconduct policy. The revised policy provides a consistent definition of sexual harassment that applies to all students, faculty, and staff (the sexual harassment policy can be found on the new Title IX website and in section 9.4 of MIT’s Policies and Procedures). It also clearly defines important terms and adds more examples and explanations of inappropriate behavior. 



Additionally, the medical leave and return policy has recently been updated (you can read it here). With the goal of encouraging help seeking, a committee of faculty, students, and staff recommended it be revised to be clearer about how and when MIT mandates medical leave. The revised policy also streamlines the undergraduate and graduate policies, and clarifies many questions about finances, health insurance, and international student issues.

Graduate Support – For the past year, Graduate Residential Life has been listening to suggestions from students and families in the graduate community. DSL set up this office so we can better respond to the unique needs of the graduate student community. While we have more work to do, feedback on the programs we offer – including leadership training for residence hall execs, programming for children, support for student emergencies, and assistance with tough issues such as food insecurity and financial hardship – has been positive. Please see below for more information on the ways we are helping students struggling with food and financial issues.

Food Insecurity and Financial Hardship – After hearing from community members, assessing peer institutions’ programs, and analyzing data in the fall, the Food Insecurity Solutions Working Group will soon make several recommendations about accessing food, enhancing financial literacy, and making funding available for urgent situations. Keep an eye out for this important report.

A huge thanks to the hundreds of student who donated more than 850 guest meals to SwipeShare to support students in need. If you are on a meal plan and want to donate, click here to see how many guests meals you have available (the number resets every semester). If you need immediate assistance with food—either a few meals or some groceries—or financial help due to an unforeseen or emergency expense, please contact Naomi Carton for discreet help.

Intercultural Center – I was delighted to join students, faculty, and staff from the Office of Multicultural Programs and LBGTQ+ Services yesterday to help open the Social Justice Programming and Cross-cultural Engagement (SPXCE) Intercultural Center in W31-110. SPXCE culminates our efforts to bring such important resources to a central location, giving these critical programs dedicated facilities to expand their programming and support more students. Additionally, we heard from students on east campus that they want the Rainbow Lounge close by so we relocated it from Building 50’s basement to the Pritchett Lounge on the second floor. I hope you find these new spaces welcoming.

Dining – We are in the midst of three important milestones: Mark Hayes beginning as our new dining director, the receipt of submissions from potential dining vendors, and the opening of Rebecca’s late-night café in Building 50’s Pritchett Dining Room this past Sunday. Along with a committee of students, faculty, and staff, Mark will be closely involved in the review and selection of our dining contractor, who will start this fall. If you have comments on the dining vendor selection process or Rebecca’s, please email foodstuff@mit.edu.

Star Market Closure – A number of students in and around the northwest area of campus shopped at Star Market in Central Square, and I recognize the closure creates challenges for some of you. In partnership with other stakeholders and student leaders, DSL is looking at a number of ways to minimize the closure’s effect on students, from improving the grocery shuttles to analyzing how existing grocery delivery services might be able to help. For the time being, please consult MIT Transportation’s grocery shuttles page or email MIT Parking for more information. I will keep you posted on our response to this issue.

Housing – There’s a lot of momentum on the graduate housing front: work on the graduate tower in Kendall Square is on schedule, and in the fall MIT announced it would add at least 500 graduate beds to the system. As Chancellor Barnhart mentioned in that October 16 email, MIT is exploring sites for the new beds and will apply for a discretionary or building permit no later than the end of 2020. Later this spring, the Graduate Housing Working Group will issue its draft report to the community for comment. In the meantime, a team of group members is examining several of the group’s recommendations, and talking to graduate house execs about potential pilot programs for improving graduate housing processes.

Policies and Updates – We take student health, wellness, and safety seriously. So, please review The Mind and Hand Book, which contains important information on standards of behavior and student life policies. Other important policies include:

 

I hope this first look at DSL’s spring agenda gives you a sense of the ways we’ll be working with you to enhance the MIT student experience. We will need your help to get all of this right, so please partner with us every step of the way (dropping by our office hours is a great way to start). And please accept my best wishes for a great spring.

Sincerely,

Suzy