Update to MIT students: Time-sensitive information about moving and resources

March 11, 2020

Dear students,

We are writing to follow up on several key items from President Reif’s email about MIT’s response to COVID-19. We understand that this news came as a surprise to many of you, and that it creates significant uncertainty. We want you to know that we are in this together, and that all of MIT is prepared to support and help you.

Undergraduate students: Requesting permission to remain on campus

We will consider limited exceptions to allow certain students to remain on campus. Exceptions may include:

  • International students who have concerns that they would not be able to return to MIT due to visa issues;
  • International students who will have difficulty returning to their home country if it has been hard hit by COVID-19 and
  • Students who do not have a home to go to, or for whom going home would be unsafe given the circumstances of their country or home life.
     

To request an exception, you must complete this short form (for MIT students only) by noon on Friday, March 13. There is a large group of student support staff within the Division of Student Life and the Office of the Vice Chancellor who will be reviewing each submission and responding within 24 hours. They will either answer your questions, address your concerns, or get you to the right person who can help. As hard as it is, though, we do need all undergraduate students to make plans to pack their belongings and travel home, or to another location off-campus, by March 17, 2020.

Responding to concerns about finances

The exception form also includes a field to describe how paying for your departure may create a significant financial hardship. This will allow the team to evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, what steps need to be taken to assist students in need.

We are also pleased to be able to share some news about financial aid, housing, dining, and student life fees. Please see details in the FAQs below.

Graduate students

While we are not requiring graduate students who currently live on campus to move off campus, we strongly encourage those who can work remotely and who can arrange another place to live to do so. Graduate students will receive more information by email very soon.

Answers to some initial key questions

The steps we are taking to safeguard our community’s health are difficult but necessary. We also know that they raise a number of questions. We will be developing more comprehensive FAQs in the coming days, which will live on MIT's main COVID-19 update site but for now, below our signatures, you will find the main ones we heard in several of our conversations with student leaders yesterday. We know that there are many more questions, and we are working to answer them as fast as we can.

In closing

We want to echo what President Reif wrote in his message – this intense disruption to campus life is painful, and we are deeply grateful for your cooperation and patience. This is not a scenario we imagined at the start of the term or even as recently as last week. But it is the situation we and other universities find ourselves in, and, with your help, we are acting in a meaningful and responsible way to protect the health of all of you, the MIT campus, and neighboring communities.

Sincerely,

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


FAQ as of Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Are student group activities and events cancelled?

As of Friday, March 13, 2020, all undergraduate student group activities and residence hall events, regardless of size, are cancelled.

Will MIT help with moving supplies and storage?

Housing & Residential Services will provide residence halls with boxes and bins for moving as well as dumpsters for disposing of trash. We will also help the FSILGs with this process and are exploring storage options for students who are impacted by this decision. More information will be sent to each undergraduate residence hall and FSILG today.

How is MIT handling financial aid, housing, dining, and other student life fees?

For students leaving on-campus or FSILG housing, we will refund the actual costs for housing and meal plan on a pro-rated basis. Additionally, we will refund half the spring semester student life fee. There will be no adjustments to financial aid associated with these changes.

Furthermore, we will reduce the amount we expect students to earn through a term-time job on a pro-rated basis and cover that amount with additional MIT Scholarship.

Will I be able to complete my spring term courses and stay on track for graduation? Will there be changes to academic grading policies?

Yes, you will be able to complete spring term courses and stay on track for graduation. We are working with faculty to make sure that subjects will be offered remotely beginning Monday, March 30, when spring break ends. You will receive specific information about how to access them. If you have questions about specific subjects, please be in touch with your instructors.

The Faculty Officers are currently working to determine the most appropriate academic policies to establish.

What if I do not have easy and reliable access to the internet or appropriate computing (hardware or software) resources to support online learning?

MIT is working to ensure all students can continue their academic programs while away from campus. Please contact ed-continuity@mit.edu to request any necessary resources and please specify your needs.

What support for academics and wellbeing will MIT offer undergraduates during the remainder of the spring semester?

All offices are currently open and will be accessible to undergraduates in-person through Tuesday, March 17. We know this news may be stressful for some and, in the coming days, we encourage all students to turn to personal support resources.

We are taking steps to virtualize our support resources, including Student Support Services (S3), the Office of the First Year (OFY), the Office of Minority Education (OME), GradSupport, and Student Mental Health and Counseling Services (SMHCS) so that students have access to them throughout the remainder of the term.

Can international students take online classes?

Yes. While F-1 student regulations do place certain limits on online instruction, the federal government has informed US institutions of higher education that it anticipates being flexible if institutions make temporary curricular changes in response to COVID-19. We do not believe MIT’s move to remote teaching for the remainder of the spring semester will adversely impact F-1 students’ visa status.

Are Commencement 2020 activities cancelled?

Given how fluid the situation is, we have not made a determination about whether this year’s Commencement celebrations will proceed as planned. We will monitor COVID-19 developments closely and let you know as soon as we have enough information to decide.

What does this mean for dining and food security issues on campus?

Our five dining halls will remain open on their regular schedules until the end of dinner on Tuesday, March 17. The pick-lunch location in Walker Memorial will close at the end of service on Thursday, March 12.

MIT Dining will be assessing conditions for eateries across campus and may make schedule changes as needed. Please note that the Student Center will close at 9 pm on Tuesday, March 17 and be accessible only to community members with valid staff, faculty, student, or affiliate IDs from 7 am to 9 pm starting on Wednesday, March 18.

TechMart in Walker Memorial will close on Sunday, March 15 at 7 pm, and relocate to the Coffeehouse Lounge on the third floor of the Student Center. TechMart is anticipated to reopen on Thursday, March 19, and the new store hours will be Monday – Friday, 9 am to 3 pm. Purchases can be made by credit card, debit card, and TechCash only.

The Howard Dining Hall in Maseeh Hall will open for modified brunch and dinner service starting at 10 am on Wednesday, March 18. Brunch will be served from 10 am to 1 pm daily. Dinner will open at 5 pm and close at 8 pm daily.

We want to make sure that students remaining on campus will not experience food insecurity. If you want to request meal swipes, please visit this site for more information.