Student attendance of off-campus events, parties, gatherings banned
Off-campus undergraduates not allowed to access campus
The organization or attendance of “off-campus events, parties, or gatherings” by on-campus or off-campus students is forbidden “until further notice,” Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson wrote in an email to students Sept. 7. MIT has also created an “expedited” disciplinary process for COVID-19 policy violations.
Additionally, students not in compliance with testing or daily health attestations will be “restricted from all campus buildings,” including residence halls and the Stratton Student Center, Senior Associate Dean of Housing and Residential Services David Friedrich and Senior Associate Dean of Residential Education Judy Robinson wrote in an email to residents Sept. 14. All students living on campus are required to complete a COVID-19 test twice weekly and complete a mandatory daily health attestation on the COVID Pass app.
Friedrich and Robinson wrote that noncompliant residents “will be able to enter the lobby of their residence hall, but will not be permitted to go further into the residence until they are in compliance.”
Undergraduates living off-campus may not access campus. Graduate students living on campus may have one in-house visitor.
Nelson wrote in a second email to students Sept. 9 that students living on campus “can meet in groups of 10 outdoors on campus,” and students may “socialize in pairs or small groups” outdoors by running, walking, or hiking together. Students may also socialize within their residential pod without physical distancing restrictions, but must observe physical distancing when interacting with students in other pods.
Students may also interact safely by “having a picnic or enjoying a coffee in an outdoor space with a few friends,” Nelson wrote. A Cambridge guidance active until Sept. 22 allows people to be outdoors without a face covering if people maintain six feet of physical distancing.
Students are allowed to attend “religious or family gatherings that are in compliance with state and local guidance,” Nelson wrote.
She added that MIT will revisit its policies and if needed, “adjust them to reflect prevailing public health guidance, current conditions, and our evolving understanding of best practices for preventing COVID-19 transmission.”
All students must wear their student IDs visibly while accessing campus spaces outside of their residence hall, Nelson wrote in her first email.
Students living on campus must follow occupancy limits, wear face coverings and maintain six feet of physical distance when accessing campus spaces. Student center spaces, barbecue pits near Kresge Auditorium, and an area near the Dupont Tennis Courts are also available for reservation, Nelson wrote. Outdoor common areas like Killian Court and Hockfield Court are also open, with signs stating maximum occupancy levels. The Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation indoor facilities are also open to individuals who have been granted access to campus.
Students who violate MIT’s COVID-19 policies may face suspension, removal from MIT housing, or loss of campus access. Other potential consequences include the suspension of a student organization, restriction of a student’s access to certain parts of campus, or “restriction of residence hall privileges such as pod membership or access to lounges, kitchens, or other residential spaces,” according to the MIT Now website.
Students charged with noncompliance will be required to meet with the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (OSCCS) within one day of receiving a notice letter from the OSCCS. Students will not be able to submit a written statement during the disciplinary process but “will be permitted to respond during the meeting with OSCCS,” according to the website.
The Committee on Discipline (COD) has “delegated authority” on COVID-19 policy violations to the OSCCS due to the “unique risk factors associated with students returning to campus and the need to take immediate action to address noncompliance,” the website writes.
A similar expedited disciplinary policy has been implemented for faculty and staff, according to a MIT Human Resources webpage.
Nelson wrote in an email to The Tech that house teams, made up of graduate resident advisors, area directors, and heads of house (HoHs) are required to report COVID-19 policy violations. Additionally, “anyone on or off campus who sees instances of noncompliance are encouraged to share that information with MIT.” Reporting may be done through an OSCCS online form or at http://hotline.mit.edu/.
Nelson wrote to The Tech that while not all the COVID-19 Student Life policies apply to off-campus students, the “Events and Party Policy” and the Mind and Hand Book policies do. “For example, if a neighbor or a dean from another university reports to MIT that one of our students hosted a party that posed a risk for spreading COVID-19, MIT would be able to address the situation directly with the student who hosted the party and other MIT students involved as necessary.”
Nelson wrote to The Tech that the expedited disciplinary process follows the “same fundamental principles of fairness and consistency used by the COD and has the support of the faculty leaders who serve on the Committee.”
She added that “this is an extraordinary time when even one person’s behavior may have critical public health ramifications.” The policies are there to “help reduce the spread of the virus, respond to incidents quickly, and keep the community safe.”
Danielle Grey-Stewart ’21, chair of the Undergraduate Association Committee on COVID-19, wrote in an email to The Tech that the committee worked with the Division of Student Life over the summer to “relax the indoor common space policies,” “mitigate isolation caused by strict housing policies,” pilot the pod program with summer residents, implement pod lounges, and “relax the prominence and role of the new Allied Universal guards in dorms.”
Grey-Stewart added that there were “many policies in which we did not all agree on, such as the guest policy for undergraduates on campus. With the many stakeholders such as the HoHs and upper administration, it was sometimes difficult to meet all of the interests and find common ground.”
Grey-Stewart wrote that the committee has not yet received “direct feedback on the disciplinary policies.” However, the committee hopes to “further engage undergraduates on their experiences with campus life, remote learning, and COVID-19 policies,” and use undergraduate student feedback to “guide our committee’s initiatives for this semester.”