UA Summaries of Task Force Recs Generate Hundreds of Student Votes

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The figure lists the number of votes for each suggestion and plots the percentage of the votes in favor. The only suggestion on the website not included is “Freshman Programs” because there was a misstatement in the UA summary.
Source: Michael A. Bennie, UA President

Several hundred students voted online on Planning Task Force recommendations based on summaries posted by the Undegraduate Association. The UA selected the 22 most important recommendations, summarized them on their website, and allowed students to vote them up or down and enter anonymous feedback.

The addition of summer classes was the most popular by net positive votes, and earlier add/drop dates was the least. The UA will present a 38-page report with result summaries and implementation suggestions to the Senate for approval tonight. It will then be circulated to key decision makers in the administration next week.

To effectively evaluate student sentiment, the UA divided the 22 recommendations into seven general categories: academic education, administrative/HR benefits, administrative processes, administrative procurement, academic space, revenue enhancement, and student life. Topics ranged from instituting co-pay for services at MIT Medical to eliminating the PE requirement. The relevant UA committees then summarized these 22 recommendations to help students extract the essence from the proposal and have their voices heard.

There were “a lot more students reading and thinking about recommendations. This method made it more accessible for a student who might not have two hours to make their voice heard,” said UA President Michael A. Bennie ’10.

One of the proposals that got a strong reaction from the student body was that of changing the add/drop date to an earlier time in the year. While the overwhelming negative student sentiment to the issue helped the UA gauge undergraduate reaction, the direct feedback via comments was also immensely helpful to the UA, said Bennie.

One student left a comment that said “I think that having late add and drop dates is part of what makes the MIT education so malleable and customizable… for those students that do use it, it is a valuable amenity to ensuring that their schedules suit them. Likewise, MIT is about learning; if a student wants to learn material, then we shouldn’t discriminate based on whether or not they can handle the time commitment or otherwise later in the semester.”

Aside from voting statistics and student feedback, the UA also used Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of the summaries. In the past four days, the UA gleaned the following interesting statistics: there were 19,000 total page views, over 500 comments, over 750 votes, and an average of 9 recommendations read by each visitor.

In the next week, the report will be circulated to three core groups. The first consists of those who are responsible for making the decisions or delegating tasks to committees: the Chancellor, the Provost, and the Executive Vice President. The second group is the Planning Task Force Coordination Committee, who will consider the UA’s report for the final Planning Task Force Report, which should be published by the end of the month. The third group is comprised of the Chairs of the Institute and Presidential Committees.

Following the final report by the Planning Task Force, recommendations will be tasked to particular individuals who will be responsible for setting deadlines for a project’s implementation.