Progress on Graduate Student Housing

September 26, 2017

To the members of the graduate student body:

When I last wrote to you in August, we were in the process of working with the Graduate Student Council (GSC) to establish a graduate student housing working group to help us better understand and meet your housing needs. Today, I am happy to share the group's charge and membership and to report that they have been hard at work. I am grateful to Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz for leading the group, to all members for taking time out of their busy schedules to lend us their insights, and to members of the GSC for their guidance and partnership throughout this complex process.

The group is tasked with an ambitious undertaking and its first assignment – an assessment of current graduate student housing demand and potential options to meet that demand – is due next month. Here's an update on the progress the group is making, and ways you can engage with them:

  • Much of the working group's focus is centered on developing a survey that will go out before the end of the month. The survey will present graduate students with different living arrangement and amenity options at different price points. The preferences indicated by survey takers will help inform the working group's assessment by showing what factors – for example, unit type, bedroom size, rent, location, proximity to grocery stores and community amenities – influence graduate students' choices and demand for housing. The survey results will assist with developing the group's assessment of these different issues:
    - how to update the 2014 Clay Report to reflect current graduate students' housing needs;
    - new housing options for meeting these needs; and
    - the cost and benefits to students and the Institute of these different housing options.
  • Since August 30, the working group, which at the request of the GSC consists of 50% graduate students, has met 5 times as a body or in smaller groups.
  • The working group has reviewed the recent GSC Housing Survey as well as other relevant data sources, including housing lottery trends; reasons why students choose to live off-campus; and pricing information for MIT, local schools and peer institutions, and area commercial apartments. 
  • The group has been soliciting feedback from different campus stakeholders, including through focus groups and phone interviews with more than 60 graduate students, and plans to meet with the organizers of Graduate Student Apartments Now in the coming weeks to understand better their concerns and goals and to share with them details of the committee's work in order to receive their feedback.
     

I hope that you will participate in the survey when you receive it in the coming days so that we can learn as much about the current housing landscape as possible. As the GSC  recently said, the working group is shaping the future of graduate student housing at MIT. To be successful, they need to hear from you!

Thank you in advance for your participation in this vital effort. If you have any questions, please email gradhousing-input@mit.edu.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Barnhart
Chancellor