Welcome home to MIT!

August 25, 2023
Suzy M. Nelson, Vice Chancellor and Dean for Student Life |

TL;DR: Ice cream and frozen treats on Kresge Lawn on 9/5; Student Center retail dining and lounges open on 9/12; Important food resources and dining updates; East Campus and Graduate Junction housing development; Improving student org policies and practices; Voter registration; Share feedback on DSL’s website!

Dear students,

Welcome to a new academic year! 

The Division of Student Life (DSL) motto is “We are here for students,” but that’s only part of our story. As members of Chancellor Melissa Nobles’s team, we are here for the whole you–your intellectual side, your social side, your creative side, your curious side, and all of the wonderful qualities that shape who you are. We want to help you create a supportive and welcoming home at MIT. And like you, we can’t wait for the new term to start.

To help kick off the semester, President Kornbluth and MIT leaders – including Chancellor Nobles, Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz, and me – will gather on Kresge Lawn on Reg Day, September 5, from 3 - 4:30 pm, to welcome the student community. We’ll have ice cream treats and popsicles, so please take some time to say hello and pick up a cool snack on the day before classes start.

Below are updates on the Student Center renovations, food, housing, and more. If you want to discuss other student life initiatives, join the DSL deans at Friday office hours from 11 am to noon in 4-110 on the Infinite Corridor starting September 15. Stop by for a snack, and perhaps meet Addie, our beloved four-legged dean.

Most of all, please remember that we are here for you. Consult doingwell.mit.edu to access resources for taking care of yourself and finding the support you need, when you need it.


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Student Center Reopens September 12

In January, we started renovating the Stratton Student Center (W20). While work on the project will continue into the spring semester, we plan to reopen many refreshed spaces, staff offices, and retail and dining operations to the public on September 12. Here are just a few of the exciting enhancements recommended by students and MIT leaders:

  • Student lounges. Get ready to visit the building’s new and updated spaces, including three first-floor lounges and the second-floor Stratton Lounge.
  • Diverse dining options. The award-winning Somali eatery Tawakal Halal Cafe was selected by students to join CommonWealth Kitchen’s Launchpad on W20’s second floor. Tawakal, BibimBox, Carolicious, TeaDo, and Dunkin’ will all open on September 12. In the meantime, MIT Dining is bringing food trucks to campus to bridge the gap.
  • Fourth-floor spaces. The Student Organization, Leadership, and Engagement Office (SOLE) is working with student groups to reopen the refreshed fourth floor in October, along with two beautiful dance/movement spaces and a brand-new lounge.
  • Wellbeing Lab. This wonderful third-floor space, in the works since 2017, has been carefully designed with students to host healthy mind and body programming. It will also be a place for you to connect with others when it opens later this academic year.
  • Grocer update. I am optimistic that a new grocery store will open in W20 in spring 2024. In the meantime, we’ve made some enhancements to other campus eateries and the grocery shuttle. See below for details.

We are grateful to the amazing construction teams, student leaders, and staff who made these renovations possible in such a short timeframe (the building closed in April). Because of their hard work, we can reopen W20 in stages to ensure some spaces are available at the beginning of the academic year. And, when the project is finished this spring, we’ll celebrate the extraordinary transformation of W20, with its new and improved community spaces, into a hub for student well-being and community. Please watch for details!

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Food and Dining

If you are a first-year student, athlete, REX volunteer, or early-returning student, take special notice of Campus Dining’s Orientation and Welcome Week (August 26 - September 1) dining schedule. Fall meal plans go into effect on September 2.

Campus eateries and grocery shuttles. Bosworth’s (Lobby 7) will continue to have extended hours and an expanded menu, and we have enhanced offerings at Stata’s Forbes Cafe (Building 32) with more sushi, grab-and-go sandwiches and wraps, and an $8 lunch special at Global Bytes each weekday. Also, the expanded three-day grocery shuttle schedule (which is already running) remains in effect. The Daily Table in Central Square is one stop on the shuttle route, and they are a particularly good resource for affordable groceries.

Food resources. No student at MIT should go to bed hungry because of a lack of resources to access food. DSL and MIT have many resources to help students who are facing challenges accessing food - please reach out for help if you need it.

Dining reviews. We have heard from the MIT community that campus dining needs to improve, so a rigorous review of our house dining program is a top priority for President Kornbluth, Chancellor Nobles, and me this year. We will convene a working group composed of students, staff, and faculty to help us review our current program and suggest ways to improve the quality, affordability, access, and financial sustainability of house dining. You will hear more about this group’s work in the coming academic year.

In December 2022, we released the results of an in-depth analysis of campus retail dining that is informing a new vision for eateries focused around three hubs: W20, the Stata Center, and Kendall Square. We also made the difficult decision to close Steam Cafe (Building 7) and the Koch Cafe (Building 37) based on long-term financial challenges that we could no longer ignore.

Our primary concern now is to help impacted staff apply for open positions in MIT Dining. We ensured positions are available to all who worked at the closed cafés before taking this action.

MIT always has and likely always will subsidize campus dining, but it currently operates at a substantial loss. With adjustments to our approach, we can better serve the entire MIT community by bolstering campus dining to improve food quality, accessibility, and sustainability.

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MIT and DSL’s commitment to student spaces is evident not only in W20 but also in the improvements to and expansions of our housing system.

East Campus Renewal. We recently began a comprehensive renovation of East Campus (Buildings 62 and 64). Starting in 2021, we worked with the East Campus Transition Team and held more than 20 community events to understand EC residents’ priorities. The community is expected to reopen in the summer of 2025, and we will continue supporting EC through a transition team comprising house team members, student residents, and DSL staff. I am deeply grateful to the EC community and stakeholders for their partnership on this historic project.

Graduate Junction Housing Development. I hope you walk west down Vassar Street to see the progress on Graduate Junction, named with input from student leaders and campus partners. MIT is working with American Campus Communities, an experienced student housing developer, to expand graduate housing stock by 676 beds and to introduce a new housing apartment model to campus. We are excited that the added beds surpass MIT’s 2017 commitment to ensure we can house about half of our graduate student population. We anticipate this new community to open in the summer of 2024, so please track our progress on DSL’s website.

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Additional Updates

Improving Student Organization Management. The Student Organization Working Group (SOWG) launched this past March to consider strengths and areas for improvement in MIT’s practices relating to student organization governance, financial, space resource management, membership policies, and risk management protocols. The faculty, students, and staff on SOWG will share their findings soon. You can track this and other key matters on the DSL website.

Voter registration. Election season is almost here. If you are a U.S. citizen age 18 or older, please visit mit.turbovote.org to check your voter registration and update your address. You can also use TurboVote to request an absentee ballot and make a voting plan before the semester gets underway.

Student life website. My team is planning a new DSL website, and we want your input! What do you expect from our website? What do you want more of, or what can you do without? Are we missing something you really need? Your answers to this five-question survey will help inform our discovery process. Also, share your contact information if you want to get more involved!

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Understanding Key Policies 

The Mind and Hand Book contains important information about policies intended to help you stay safe and healthy, including the following: