Reif and Barnhart provide updates on MIT summer plans

All summer programming remains remote, canceled, or rescheduled

President L. Rafael Reif and Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 shared updates regarding MIT summer programs in an email to the MIT community April 24.

Specific program decisions may be found on the Office of the Vice Chancellor’s (OVC) website, which also includes a letter to students from Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz and Senior Associate Dean Kate Trimble.

Waitz and Trimble wrote that “all summer programming in which participants live in MIT residence halls will need to be virtualized, cancelled, or rescheduled,” while “all other summer programming will need to take place remotely” through June 28.

Furthermore, “MIT-sponsored domestic and international travel is suspended for the entire summer.”

Programming available remotely include UROPs, internships under PKG Social Impact Employment, and others listed on the OVC website. 

Decisions for the summer are made by two summer planning teams under MIT’s Academic Continuity Working Group. The teams consist of members from OVC, the Division of Student Life (DSL), academic departments, and MIT offices such as MISTI and Sandbox.

Waitz and Trimblewrote in an email to The Tech that the teams aim to “inform timely decision-making about summer programming in light of the latest public health developments, evolving Institute and governmental responses, and student safety and equity concerns.” 

Additionally, the email wrote that the teams solicited feedback from the Undergraduate Association (UA), Graduate Student Council (GSC), and broader members of DSL and the Academic Continuity team. 

The email wrote that new summer options are being developed, including teaching and tutoring K-12 students, social impact internships, and the Experiential Ethics Program. 

Members of the MIT community can fill out a survey on summer goals, interests, and ideas for new summer programs and opportunities.

The email wrote that ideas received thus far include “expanded and enhanced remote UROPs, particularly projects that involve data analysis, simulations, and modeling; suggestions for digital community-building like book clubs or discussion groups; paid public interest internships with nonprofits and government agencies; skill-building workshops and summer classes on languages, music, fitness, and academic subjects; ‘Sandbox on steroids’ and other entrepreneurial experiences; and opportunities for students to participate in COVID-19-related projects and innovations.”

Institute-approved housing will not be open to students in the summer except for current undergraduate and graduate students residing in emergency housing in Maseeh, McCormick, and Baker. 

Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson wrote in an email to The Tech that MIT Dining will continue meal service under the same conditions.

There are currently “no plans to reopen recreational facilities” managed by the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation or “in residence halls,” Nelson wrote. Online health and fitness resources, such as a virtual group exercise class, will continue to be offered by Campus Recreation.

Senior Associate Dean of Housing and Residential Services (HRS) David Friedrich wrote in an email to undergraduates and staff currently residing on campus April 28 that the DSL will work with individuals in emergency housing on a case-by-case basis if they “do not have access to alternative off-campus housing options” or “are unable to travel safely due to COVID-19.” Individuals needing assistance with housing extensions should email HRS, Friedrich wrote.

Nelson wrote that FSILGs “will not be open for housing students or boarders this summer,” adding that “DSL will partner with chapters to address financial concerns and plan for sustaining a vibrant FSILG system.”

MISTI is not offering abroad programs but instead providing virtual internships in select locations and helping international students find opportunities in their own countries. 

MISTI Director Chappell Lawson wrote in an email to The Tech that MISTI is also considering a pilot program where internships are arranged for students in areas of the U.S. where working at an office is still possible. Lawson wrote that these internships would be in a “small number” of locations in the American “heartland” where MIT students “would not normally work,” such as the “South and Midwest.”

MISTI is offering additional remote summer activities such as a program to practice language skills and is launching a podcast. Information will be updated on the MISTI Summer 2020 webpage.

Remote UROPs for pay, credit, or on a volunteer basis will continue to be offered for the summer. 

Michael Bergren, associate dean and UROP director, wrote that decisions on allowing on-campus UROPs in July and August will depend on Institute decisions regarding campus access. More information is expected in late May, Bergren wrote.

Bergren chairs the Summer Opportunities and Resources Team (SORT), which is working with OVC and the Office of Experiential Learning on summer research plans. SORT is currently adding student representatives to its team as well, Bergren wrote. 

Students seeking a UROP can consult the UROP website. Bergren wrote that remote advising on UROPs is also available by appointment. The deadline to apply for directly-funded summer UROPs is May 7, while the application deadline for all other UROPs is July 9. 

Reif and Barnhart wrote that final plans in the upcoming months will depend on the progress of scientific research and public policy. Their email also mentioned plans to share working scenarios for the fall with the MIT community in a future “participatory virtual community event and problem-solving process.”