Welcome from DSL! (Graduates)

September 03, 2019

tl;dr: Frozen treats with Team Chancellor today; Focus on student wellbeing; Site 4 & updated housing policies; New dining location & future planning; More student spaces & enhanced resources.

Dear students,

On behalf of my colleagues from the Division of Student Life (DSL), welcome to campus for the fall 2019 semester! Please stop by the Kresge Oval today from 2 - 3 pm for some delicious frozen treats and to talk with me, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz, and members of the Chancellor’s team.

If you can’t make today’s ice cream social, there are more opportunities for us to talk -- beginning this Friday, DSL deans and I will host weekly office hours every Friday from 11 am - 12 pm in 4-110. In addition to conversation about whatever is on your mind, you can help yourself to a snack and visit Addie, our award-winning therapy dog.

Promoting a Culture of Student Wellbeing

DSL’s major focus this year is on advancing student wellness and the MindHandHeart initiative’s transformative work. MindHandHeart reminds us that wellbeing is core to MIT’s educational experience. I look forward to hearing your ideas on how we can work together to further strengthen support services and to improve spaces that further our student wellbeing goals.

Improving Grad Student Housing Processes

  • There has been great progress on the graduate tower at Site 4 in Kendall Square, which is scheduled to open in 2020. We are also making progress helping Eastgate residents prepare for the residence’s closing after Site 4 opens. The Eastgate heads of house and student leaders, Graduate Student Council members, and DSL staff will serve on a transition team to support grad students and families who either choose to move into the new tower or who seek other housing options.
  • Additionally DSL’s housing team worked with grad student leaders to pilot policy and process changes intended to improve and expedite finding grad student housing. For example, new grad students who receive first-year housing assignments are now provided with the option to renew for a second year. We also experimented successfully with a self-selection system for the fall waiting list process, and we changed lease start-and-end dates to better align students’ housing needs with the academic calendar. We have heard from grad students that these enhancements have been appreciated and well-received.

If you have any questions about housing and the enhancements made this summer, email graduatehousing@mit.edu.

Making MIT Dining Better

We heard your feedback! Now meal plan subscribers can use a meal swipe for the pick-a-lunch pilot on the second floor of Walker Memorial (next to TechMart) Monday through Thursday from 11 am - 2 pm. Pick one from a number of entrees (including sandwiches, salads, and hot options), then choose two from a rotating list of sides (e.g., chips, fruit, dessert), and a beverage. There will also be vegetarian and gluten-free options.

  • Two student and staff working groups launched this summer. The first, which also includes heads of house, focuses on designing a meal plan structure that meets our dining program goals. A second advisory group is providing input and guidance to Campus Dining and DSL leadership on the campus dining strategy. These two groups are in addition to the existing House Dining Committee and another working group focusing on the entire Student Center, including Lobdell Food Court.
  • Dining is preparing to expand its GET app pilot (for iOS and Android) which allows you to pre-order food at retail eateries. Dunkin’ in the Student Center is the first, with more options coming soon. Do you want to see your favorite campus eatery added to the GET system? Let us know by completing this survey at techcash.mit.edu.

Remember that dining dollars are included with every meal plan and accepted at dining halls, retail eateries across campus, and several off-campus restaurants and grocery stores. Please email foodstuff@mit.edu with your comments, thoughts, and suggestions. We want to hear from you!

Enhancing Spaces and Resources

  • For two years, the Accessing Resources at MIT (ARM) Coalition has worked to ensure that all students have equal access to opportunities and experiences at MIT. If you or someone you know needs financial help with anything -- from basic living expenses to supplies for classes -- please visit arm.mit.edu for more information.
  • Late last spring we opened two wonderful student spaces. The Student Center has the new fifth-floor study lounge, which was an Athena cluster. Now this airy space is available to all students for studying, relaxing, and recharging. Watch for details about a formal opening later this fall. For your spiritual wellbeing, there is a peaceful meditation space in Walker Memorial on the third floor. Both spaces offer calming respite from your busy schedule.
  • The Engage platform launched last year to help students navigate the landscape of MIT’s activities and groups. You can search for students groups, look for upcoming events, and track your involvement in groups and clubs throughout your MIT career.
  • On-demand shuttle service operates 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, the extended Boston East fixed-route pilot will coincide with the on-demand schedule. Lastly, the grocery shuttle schedule will have buses running most weeks during the academic year. 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.

Updating you on important policies

Nothing is more important to me than your health and safety. I ask that you please take a few minutes to look through the Mind and Hand Book and some other websites that contain important information on a number of policies including the following:

Thank You!

DSL’s mission is simply stated: We are here for students. And your thoughts and input matter to us as we work every day to fulfill that mission. In whatever way we connect -- in person or over email -- I look forward to hearing from you.

I hope you have a great fall semester,

Suzy M. Nelson
Vice President and Dean for Student Life