UA expresses disappointment in MIT’s Fall 2020 decision

In a statement posted on the Undergraduate Association (UA) website, the UA Committee on COVID-19 wrote that it is “frustrated at the disconnect between what was communicated these past few weeks” in regards to MIT’s fall plans announced July 6.

The statement writes that the Institute’s fall decision does not match the contents of community feedback in charrettes, surveys, and the Team 2020 website, which “left many with a broad sense of what the fall would like.” In addition, the UA is “frustrated” at the “lack of inclusion of student voices” in the plans.

The UA is also “deeply distressed” by the new ICE guidelines and wrote in the statement that it is “actively petitioning for MIT to collaborate with peer institutions to mitigate” the guidelines’ effects.

In its statement, the UA promises to step up its advocacy and engage with students to “harness our frustration to reinvigorate and refocus” their efforts.

MIT’s plans include inviting only seniors back on campus, allowing non-seniors with difficult home circumstances to apply for returns to campus, and not granting any off-campus students access to MIT facilities. 

According to a presentation on the Team 2020 website, the two most highly-prioritized criteria by charrette participants and feedback form respondents for determining which students could return were students needing in-person instruction and students disproportionately impacted by the virus.

In its recommendations of fall scenarios, the Committee on COVID-19 first prioritized students requesting emergency housing exceptions, advising that juniors and seniors be invited back in the fall and first years, sophomores, and seniors be invited in the spring. A petition endorsed by the committee and written by the 2021 Class Council requested that seniors have access to campus both semesters.

According to an undergraduate preference survey, with no in-person elements and without MIT housing, 37% of sophomore, junior, and senior respondents indicated that they would take a leave of absence for Fall 2020.

MIT’s financial aid adjustments for the fall assume a $4,000 room-and-board expense for off-campus students, half of the allowance for on-campus students. Dean of Student Financial Services (SFS) Stu Schmill ’86 wrote to The Tech that this is because SFS expects that off-campus students “will be living at home” and will have lower expenses.

In the undergraduate preference survey, of sophomore, junior, and senior respondents who indicated they would live off campus if MIT housing was not provided, 36% responded that they would live with their families. The other 64% answered that they had either signed a lease for housing, arranged to live in an Airbnb, were looking for housing, or had another arrangement.