Time-sensitive graduate housing changes and moving resources

March 20, 2020

Dear graduate student residents,

There is an increased urgency to MIT’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and we write to alert you to several changes that will affect students living in on-campus graduate housing.

Based on recent discussions with MIT Medical, MIT Emergency Management, public health officials, and graduate heads of house, further reductions in the number of residents living in MIT on-campus graduate housing are necessary.

  • We now are learning more about how the virus spreads: New evidence suggests it can be transmitted through contaminated surfaces and remains airborne for longer than previously thought.
  • With less than a quarter of our graduate student population moved out, we want remaining students who can move to a less-dense living environment to do so. This will help us further reduce the number of graduate students living in higher density housing and dormitory-style housing with shared floor kitchens and bathrooms. At this point in the crisis, we are concerned about community spread of the virus, and we need to be able to keep our community as safe as possible.
     

Here is what we are asking you to do and how we will help:

  • We are strongly encouraging everyone who is able to leave on-campus housing and move to a less-dense living arrangement where you can practice social distancing to do so this weekend. Now that the campus research enterprise has been scaled back, we anticipate that more students should be in a position to do this.
  • We will make it easier for you by providing financial assistance for travel and other expenses associated with moving. Below, we detail these new travel and moving resources.
     

Despite the urgency of this situation, we know that not all graduate students can leave, and we do not expect them to. Some do not have reasonable alternative housing options and some need to remain on campus to fulfill critical research roles, as described below.

Those who must stay in MIT housing will have to:

  • Agree to abide by even more stringent social distancing practices as described in updated emergency graduate student housing policies intended to help limit the risk of spreading the virus. You will be required to sign an agreement accepting these policies and acknowledging the risks of remaining in on-campus emergency housing.
  • All graduate students living on-campus must complete their personal form as soon as possible and no later than noon on Sunday, March 22. Any student who does not complete the form by this deadline will not be permitted to stay in MIT housing. The form will ask whether you plan to stay in MIT housing and, if so, which reasons for staying apply to you. You will also be asked to provide emergency contact information to use during this crisis if you are remaining on campus.
     

Most importantly, we want to remind students who must stay on campus that they should remain in their rooms or apartments as much as possible and avoid contact with others.

We hope you will seriously consider relocating in the interest of everyone’s health and safety. The public health landscape is subject to change at any moment, and we believe now is the time to take decisive action.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor
Suzy M. Nelson, Vice President and Dean for Student Life
Ian A. Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education


New travel and moving resources

The following assistance is available to any graduate student currently residing in on-campus graduate housing who departs campus by 11:59 PM on Sunday, March 22:

  • We will provide up to $1,000 in financial assistance for travel and other costs associated with departures from campus over the weekend. We will authorize your reimbursement based on information you submit on the form referenced above. If you have a higher need, we will work with you to understand your needs and help address them. To complete the reimbursement process, please fill out the required form linked above.
  • Pick-up and storage for students departing housing. MIT has arranged pick-up and storage services for students moving off-campus. Boxes will be available, and we ask that you pack your belongings, label them with your name and forwarding address, and leave them locked in your room. The financial assistance mentioned above can help offset storage costs. More information on storage options may be found here. Students who leave on-campus housing and turn in their keys will no longer be billed for their housing and will receive a one-time pro-rated refund based on the date of departure from campus. Please see this flowchart for more information.
     

We list circumstances below that describe who may need to remain in on-campus emergency housing:

  • Students who do not have reasonable alternative housing options.
  • International students who can no longer travel to their home country, or who have visa issues that would impact their return to campus. We are, however, strongly encouraging any international student who can stay with family or friends in the United States to consider pursuing this alternative housing option during the crisis.
  • Students who have been given a specific exemption by the dean of their school to continue critical research during the scale-back of campus research.
  • Graduate Resident Advisors and graduate students who are living in FSILGs or undergraduate housing.
  • Students who have been previously granted an exception through the undergraduate on-campus emergency housing process.
  • Students who do not have a home to go to, or for whom going home would be unsafe given the circumstances of their home life.
     

You must complete your form available from the web link assigned to you as soon as possible and no later than noon on Sunday, March 22. Any student who does not complete the form by this deadline will not be permitted to stay in MIT housing. The form will ask whether you plan to stay in MIT housing and, if so, which reasons for staying apply to you. You will also be asked to provide emergency contact information to use during this crisis if you are remaining on campus. Students with no reasonable alternative housing options are not expected to leave. If you are departing, you can request financial assistance with travel, moving, or other costs associated with your accelerated move out on this form as well.

Updated policies for emergency housing

  • For those who must stay in MIT housing, more stringent social distancing practices as described in updated emergency graduate student housing policies will be in effect. You will be required to sign an agreement accepting these policies and acknowledging the risks of remaining in on-campus emergency housing.
  • Because we believe these additional rules and conditions are a critical component to managing the risk of students remaining on campus, a failure to comply with these expectations may result in a referral to the Committee on Discipline for disciplinary action. Interim disciplinary measures may also be taken, including immediate removal from MIT housing. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and may need to make additional adjustments or impose additional conditions as we learn more.
  • We will review settings where residents are sharing floor kitchens and bathrooms as well as locations where overall density remains elevated to determine whether residents who remain in emergency on-campus housing will need to be relocated.
     

Effective immediately, we are further updating policies previously put in place in all on-campus graduate residences to help protect the health and safety of community members (these rules are also in effect in emergency on-campus undergraduate housing). Please read these updated policies and community expectations. Here are some of the key updates:

  • Distancing. You must adhere strictly to social distancing guidelines and enhanced personal hygiene practices. You should make every effort to stay in your apartment/room and to avoid contact with others. We are asking heads of house to help enforce these rules.
  • Social events. Gatherings within graduate residence halls have been suspended until further notice.
  • All common areas are closed. Spaces such as multi-purpose rooms, seminar rooms, and small and large enclosed common spaces in our communities will be closed.
  • Elevators and stairwells. If possible, use stairs rather than sharing an elevator.
  • Visitors. Per the policy already in place, no daytime or overnight visitors are permitted in graduate residence halls. The only exceptions to this will be for: 1) Friends and family members who are helping you move out of your residence hall; and 2) In Eastgate and Westgate, a childcare provider who comes to your apartment to watch your children during the day while you are at work.
  • Floor kitchens. Access to floor kitchens is restricted to only one person at a time. Kitchen utensils must be cleaned thoroughly after use, and all surfaces must be wiped down. Building managers will ensure that proper cleaning supplies are available.