RLAD process feels deceitful

Editor’s Note: The following letter was addressed to Chancellor Eric Grimson PhD ’80. Grimson has responded to concerns about RLADs, see page five.

I am sure you are receiving a lot of emails about this right now, but it is an issue that many faculty, staff and students are rightfully upset over.

The process of installing new Residential Life Area Directors (RLAD) over the summer, as decided behind closed doors with no transparency, is deceitful and a misuse of power. I am extremely shocked to think that the administration would even consider surprising the students returning to campus with such a drastic change, and even more surprised that this decision has received little to no input from the current GRTs.

The GRT/housemaster program has worked out extremely well for Senior House, and it would be a shame to install extra overhead to an already successful program in a time where MIT needs to do budget cuts. We do not need more administrative bloat. We do need, however, administrators to listen to us.

As a student it is extremely frustrating to feel like my voice falls against deaf ears. This needs to change.

When you were elected chancellor, I was hopeful that a new era of respect and dialogue would begin. You have disappointed me in a number of ways, the most blatant being the surreptitious installation of the RLADs over the summer, when students are not here. One is almost tempted to think that this time was chosen to reduce student friction, since most of us are away from campus.

Finally, I would like to say that the response you made to a RLAD inquiry is totally inappropriate and inadequate:

“Thank you for your note. The letter was intended to inform the housemasters about the RLAD position and to develop a dialogue around enhancements to the student housing system. We always intended to engage student groups in discussions about such enhancements while finalizing any changes, and we intend to communicate with the broad student body. So I ask that you permit the process to move forward, as these plans are not fully developed and it is inappropriate to engage in a public discussion at this point.”

Student input should not be while finalizing changes. Student input should be central to the planning stages. This is the ideal time for discussion, and any later time is silly since the plans will be “too set to change.”

I will not let this move forward. I am opposed to the RLAD program, but I am more opposed to the deceitful way that this plan has moved forward.

I leave you hoping that you will seriously consider my words as being from one adult to another, and that the way that administrative decisions are currently made around MIT will experience a drastic change towards student engagement and transparency.

Colleen Josephson ’13

Faculty agree with UA-GSC joint vision

We are writing to express our enthusiastic support for the proposals put forth in Tuesday May 15 Tech “UA-GSC joint vision for the MIT community.” We recognize and agree with the priorities of student wellness and support, campus planning, and community based problem solving. We and our faculty colleagues need to be better educated with respect to student well being, and better integrated into the professional and cooperative support networks. With respect to campus planning, MIT is one of the few U.S. research universities that lacks a major campus planning committee composed of students, staff and faculty. As suggested by the GSC/UA Student Joint Task Force, delegating campus planning to an investment management company (MITIMCo) is unlikely to provide for the full range of student and campus needs.

The UA-GSC article puts forward the notion of increased cooperativity among the different campus constituencies. Despite the very close contact between faculty and students in the teaching and mentoring mode, there are too few opportunities for joint social problem solving and innovation. Our MIT Faculty Newsletter Editorial Board has discussed this low level of engagement among faculty, GSA, and UA representatives. We have considered joint forums and joint committees. However, our first step will be to republish the op-ed in the September issue of the Faculty Newsletter to reach out to our own faculty colleagues.

We also agree that the appointment of MIT’s own Rafael Reif as President-elect opens up new opportunities for faculty/administration/student collaborations.

Jonathan King,
Prof. of Molecular Biology

Robert C. Berwick,
Prof. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Ruth Perry,
Ann F. Friedlaender Prof. of Humanities

Patrick H. Winston,
Ford Prof. of Engineering

The authors are members of the Editorial Board of the MIT Faculty Newsletter.