Team 2020 releases undergraduate Student Preference Survey results
22% of first-year respondents would defer enrollment and 24% of upper-level respondents would take a leave of absence in the fall if there are no in-person elements
Team 2020 has released a report of its findings for the fall term, according to an email from Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz to MIT community members June 12. The report details the results of the Student Preference Survey sent to all undergraduates June 6.
According to the survey results, the survey featured 3,517 responses, including 869 incoming first-year respondents and 2,648 upper-level sophomore, junior, and senior respondents.
The first part of the survey asked students to consider an academic scenario involving a mostly-remote curriculum with some in-person elements for lab classes, project classes, and UROPs. The in-person elements would end before Thanksgiving, and students would travel home to complete the remainder of the term remotely.
The survey wrote that COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines will be in place for students on campus, including a “daily health attestation” to report symptoms and regular testing in order to be granted access to “approved campus buildings at specific times.”
Students on campus will also be tested immediately upon return to campus and must self-quarantine until a follow-up test one week later shows up negative. If the follow-up test is positive, the student must continue to self-isolate and test until obtaining a negative result. Students on campus must also follow physical distancing guidelines, wear face coverings, practice “enhanced personal hygiene practices,” and avoid non-essential travel.
Additional restrictions would be in place for students living in MIT residence halls or fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups (FSILGs). Fewer people will live on campus, with students assigned to single rooms, specific bathrooms, and a limited living cohort. Students must wear face coverings when interacting outside these living cohorts and practice physical distancing in common spaces.
In the scenario described in the survey, use of community kitchens will be restricted and students will eat take-out dining hall meals. Social gatherings are strictly prohibited, and visitors are forbidden, with few exceptions. If the number of students who must be on campus exceeds “safe residential capacity,” MIT will provide “alternate housing.”
According to the report, 87% of first-year and 83% of upper-level respondents indicated they would register for scheduled classes in the fall under these policies.
Nine percent of upper-level respondents indicated that they would take a leave of absence for the term. 44% of upper-level respondents indicated that they would request to live in a residence hall, 23% in an FSILG, 14% off-campus near MIT, one percent in Massachusetts not near MIT, eight percent in another U.S. state, and two percent in another country.
The survey then described a scenario in which every class was online, with no in-person elements.
Under these conditions, 57% of first-year respondents would register for fall classes and live in MIT-affiliated housing, 32% would register for fall classes but not live in MIT-affiliated housing, and 22% would defer their enrollment. Of the first-year respondents who would take fall classes but not live in MIT-affiliated housing, 99% indicated that they would live with their family.
With no in-person elements, 58% of upper-level respondents would register for fall classes if they were allowed to live in a residence hall or FSILG and 42% would register for fall classes if they were not. 24% of upper-level respondents would take a leave of absence from the fall term.
If housing in a residence hall or FSILG is not available but in-person elements exist, 37% of upper-level respondents would opt to take a leave of absence for the term. If assigned to live instead in a hotel near MIT, 70% of upper-level respondents would live in the hotel, 19% would find another residence, and 11% would take a leave of absence for the term.
If “therapeutic treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 are not widely available,” 51% of first-year respondents who would opt to register for fall classes indicated that they would prefer living with a roommate over living in a single. Meanwhile, 56% of upper-level respondents would prefer a single, 41% would prefer a roommate, and three percent would live in non-MIT-affiliated housing.
When asked about how important it is that people on campus comply with the COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines, 74% of all respondents indicated it was either “extremely” or “very” important, 22% indicated it was “moderately” or “somewhat” important, while three percent indicated it was “not at all” important.
Additionally, 79% of respondents indicated that it is “extremely” or “very” likely they would follow the COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines. Meanwhile, 36% of respondents indicated that it is “extremely” or “very” likely that undergraduates on campus would follow these policies.
The second part of the survey asked undergraduates about their preferences between three scenarios for the entire 2020-2021 academic year:
Two semesters with scheduled classes in both fall and spring terms, with almost all classes held virtually. Students will only be allowed to spend one semester on campus while the other must be completed remotely.
Two semesters with scheduled classes starting January 2021 and ending late July or early August, with no IAP or spring break. Between September to December 2020, MIT would provide students with “remote experiential learning” opportunities, such as “remote UROPs, remote projects, independent study, with some opportunities to earn credit.”
Three semesters from September to December 2020, January to April 2021, and May to late July or early August 2021, with no IAP. Students will be allowed on campus for two of the three semesters, predetermined by MIT. Classes fulfilling major requirements will be scheduled for the two on-campus semesters while students may take additional online subjects without charge in their remote semester.
The survey wrote that the second option would provide “more time for a potential vaccine and therapeutic treatment to be developed.” If these measures become available, “safety protocols for physical distancing and testing could be relaxed” and MIT could operate “as it did pre-COVID with all students back on campus” in both the second and third options.
Under the first scenario, 59% of respondents would register for classes in the fall, 27% would register for classes for their on-campus semester and take a leave of absence for the other, and 14% would defer their enrollment or take a leave of absence.
Under the second scenario, 68% of respondents would register for both semesters, 19% would take a leave of absence for one of the semesters, and 13% would defer their enrollment or take a leave of absence.
Under the third scenario, 64% of respondents would register for classes, five percent would defer their enrollment or take a leave of absence, and 31% indicated their decision to register for classes would depend on which semesters they were allowed to be on campus.
51% of first-year and 35% of upper-level respondents indicated they would register for classes across all three scenarios.
The Team 2020 report slides wrote that community members were asked in May to choose the principles and values that should guide MIT’s decision for reopening campus through a 2020 Option Feedback Form and three community charrettes.
According to the slides, the 2020 Option Feedback Form allowed respondents to choose the three to five principles most important to them. Among the 900 complete and 900 partial responses to the feedback form, the top five values were “accomplishing MIT’s mission” (69%), “community health and welfare” (59%), “preserving flexibility” (47%), “expert guidance” (43%), and “access to campus” (42%).
Among charrette participants, who were allowed to choose two important principles, the top five values were “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (30%), “community health and welfare” (26%), “accomplishing MIT’s mission” (11%), “preserving flexibility” (10%), and “access to campus” (six percent), the slides wrote.
The slides wrote that there is “broad consensus” among feedback form respondents and charrette participants that students with “academic needs” or “poor learning environments” should be prioritized for return to campus.