Welcome back to MIT! [Undergraduate Students]

September 04, 2018

tl;dr: New food and dining program update; Access student resources more easily; New House open and Vassar Street progressing; Important policies including one on consensual relationships; Stop by Lobby 10 today from 2-3 pm for cool treats from Team Chancellor!

Dear students,

On behalf of Chancellor Cindy Barnhart, Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz, me (Suzy Nelson), and all who are part of the Chancellor’s team, welcome to fall 2018 at MIT! Whether you are a new or returning student, we invite you to join us today from 2-3 pm in Lobby 10 for ice cream, frozen yogurt, and conversation.

If you can’t make it to Lobby 10 this afternoon, stop by the DSL deans’ weekly office hours, which kick off on Friday, September 7. You can talk to me and other members of our staff, grab a snack, and hang out with Addie, the Division of Student Life’s (DSL) awesome therapy dog, every Friday from 11 am to 12 pm in 4-110. In the meantime, I want to share some DSL updates that highlight how we are fulfilling our mission: We are here for students.

Improving Food & Dining

Last year, we selected Compass Group—including Bon Appetit and Restaurant Associates—to manage the new contract for house and retail dining across campus. We have already seen important improvements: new cuisines in the residential dining halls, new concepts for retail dining, and new meal plans that add a lot of flexibility for students on the go (read this FAQ for more details). Here are a few specifics:

  • Dining Dollars: Dining dollars are included with every meal plan and accepted at retail eateries across campus, dining halls, and several off-campus restaurants and groceries.
  • TechMart - a new at-cost grocery store: Last spring’s Food Insecurity Solutions Working Group (FSIWG) report recommended that MIT make it easier for students to access staple foods at budget-friendly prices. With support from student leaders, faculty, and staff, DSL followed through on this recommendation; this fall, we will pilot the new TechMart store. This at-cost grocery will be on the second floor of Walker Memorial in Rebecca’s Café. (Also remember that SwipeShare, our meal donations program, can also assist students facing food insecurity).

We want to hear from you about food and dining. Please email foodstuff@mit.edu with your feedback.

Easier Access to Student Resources

  • ARM Website: Over the summer, the Accessing Resources at MIT (ARM) Coalition teamed up with DSL and students to launch a new section of our website dedicated to making life as a student more affordable. If you or someone you know needs financial help with anything from basic living expenses to supplies for class, please visit arm.mit.edu for more information.
  • Student Support Button on the MIT app: For years, the MIT app has been a great resource for navigating daily life on campus (e.g., daily dining hall menus). New this year is a button on the app that quickly connects you to support resources, assists with issues like food insecurity, and guides you when you aren’t sure where to turn for help.
  • Event Registration Updates: After a two-year collaboration between students, faculty, and staff, a new process for registering residence hall and FSILG events launched last year on the Atlas administrative services website (certificate required). The process includes some novel features including incentives for students to complete the updated PartySafePlus training. You can learn more and begin the process of registering an event on the DSL website.
  • Engage Pilot: This fall, the Student Activities Office (SAO) will introduce MIT Engage, a system that will help student groups manage a wide range of operational information, from membership lists to finances. The system will also provide information on your co-curricular activities, creating a kind of activities transcript to accompany your academic one.
  • Shuttles: The on-demand shuttle service piloted last year will continue, operating Sunday through Wednesday from 11 pm-2:30 am, and Thursday through Saturday from 11 pm-3:30 am. The fixed-route Boston East, Cambridge East & Somerville, and Cambridge West & Brookline SafeRide shuttles will also run from 6 pm-11 pm daily. Throughout the fall, and until 1 am daily, a new, extended Boston East fixed-route pilot will coincide with the on-demand schedule. Lastly, a new grocery shuttle schedule will have buses running most weeks during the academic year and twice a month during the summer. Click here to download the app needed for hailing an on-demand shuttle, and see all of the shuttle options and schedules on the Parking and Transportation website.

Housing Updates

  • Vassar Street Residence: Construction on the 450-bed undergraduate residence hall progressed steadily over the summer. Concrete foundation pilings are in place, and the building will start to take shape over the coming months. It’s exciting to see progress on this important project, and floor plans are now available online to help students envision what living there will be like (certificate required).
  • New House: The New House renovation is now complete! I want to thank New House residents, Head of House Dr. Wes Harris, and the house team for being great partners during the planning and construction process. From offering input on the building’s new configuration to working closely with staff on temporary relocations, they helped to make a challenging situation much easier (as did heads of house and students from other graduate and undergraduate residence halls who welcomed New House residents into their communities during the renovations).


Policies and Updates: Your health and safety are my top priorities, so please take a minute to check out the Mind and Hand Book. It contains important information including:

  • MIT’s Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act statement, which includes the Institute’s policy, potential sanctions, health risks, and resources available for the prevention of illegal drug use and alcohol abuse;
  • The Good Samaritan Amnesty Policy, which protects students and student organizations who seek help in medical emergencies involving alcohol and prohibited substances;
  • The federal Title IX law and MIT's sexual misconduct policy and Title IX resources, which address sexual misconduct prevention and response;
  • The Massachusetts state law on hazing and MIT's own anti-hazing rules, which contribute to a positive student life experience; and
  • MIT Police's Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, which outlines important information about campus safety, crime prevention, and ways the MIT Police can support community members.

Lastly, MIT instituted a new consensual relationships policy in January 2018. I hope you will take a few moments to familiarize yourself with it.

DSL Developments

Later this month, we will hold a ceremony to install Rev. Kirstin Boswell-Ford as MIT’s second chaplain to the Institute. Please watch for more information about this wonderful occasion. If you have time on an upcoming Monday, join Kirstin for Mondays in the Chapel to hear community members talk about issues important to them. The sessions, which start on September 10, are a great and inspiring way to begin your week.

Also, please keep exploring all that MIT has to offer: our many student groups, the opportunities for physical activity offered by DAPER, and the potential to develop leadership skills as part of MIT’s approach to shared governance in residence halls, class councils, student government, and more.

All of us on the Chancellor’s team are here for you, and we want to hear from you. We hope to see you later this afternoon in Lobby 10 or at my office hours!

Best wishes for a good start to the semester,

Suzy M. Nelson
Vice President and Dean for Student Life