A little more than a year ago, I sat down with Martin F. Holmes ’08 — my successor as Undergraduate Association President — and then-Graduate Student Council President Leeland B. Ekstrom PhD ’09 to pen a letter expressing our serious concerns regarding the lack of meaningful student involvement in Institute decision making and outlining our proposals for change. The issue of student input, which had begun to resurface as a concern during my term in office, came to a head last year after the Institute’s handling of the arrest of Star A. Simpson ‘10, the surprising announcement of Green Hall’s conversion to undergraduate housing, poor communication regarding the future of W1 and student dining, as well as a number of hacking incidents. After a series of negotiated edits and changes, this letter — which was eventually co-signed by Mr. Holmes, Mr. Ekstrom, Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75, and Executive Vice President Kirk D. Kolenbrander — was published in the Faculty Newsletter and called for the establishment of a Task Force on Student Engagement.
The administration made a wise move last week in deciding to take proactive steps to more explicitly encourage the use of public transportation by campus commuters. The recent change included an expansion of the commuter rail pass subsidy to 50 percent for all zones and the decision to provide free transit passes for the month of September to employees who currently park on campus. By making it easier for MIT faculty and staff to utilize the Boston metropolitan area’s comprehensive transit system, the administration’s efforts can go a long way towards decreasing the impact of rising fuel costs on our community and reducing our collective carbon footprint.