Given the high level of interest in facts surrounding the Senior House decision, I thought it might help to lay out the milestone events of the last year and share my thinking.
The punishment being implemented by the MIT Chancellor and President goes far beyond individual accountability, or the desire to eliminate drug use in the dorm. Allegations of widely tolerated drug use were made by the chancellor, but prior to the investigation, very few students were aware of the events that have now been punished by the COD.
I spoke to Senior House residents, who were explicitly informed by Chancellor Barnhart that the HMS survey was the data source used to justify the actions taken against the house.
MIT IS&T has been injecting Google Analytics code into HTML pages being served from MIT’s Athena lockers
Since April, IS&T has been injecting Google Analytics code into HTML pages being served from our Athena lockers.
Thousands of hours of student time were lost preparing for, attending, and following up on meetings that were part of the official Turnaround, Probation, and Readmission processes for Senior House, all of which failed. These failures can be attributed to poor leadership: The Turnaround process lacked clear goals, objectives, and evaluation criteria. The Probation process lacked clear goals, objectives, and evaluation criteria. The Readmission process had the vague goal of creating "a new community", but no clear evaluation criteria.For MIT's top administrators (President, Vice-President, Provost, & Chancellor) to put students through such clearly flawed but time-consuming processes was, at best, amateurish. Due to the gross imbalance of power, students felt compelled to devote considerable time to try to save their community by participating in the administration's ill-defined Turnaround, Probation, and Readmission processes, each of which, lacking clear goals, objectives, or criteria, was doomed to fail.The natural reluctance of affected students to raise this issue with the very academic officers who still wield immense power over them may be exacerbated by the fact that each of the three processes was initiated and terminated unilaterally by the administration, without student input or consultation, accompanied by statements blaming the entire Senior House community. In a rare public account, an MIT Admissions blogger reports having "...spent late nights drafting documents to present at these meetings, losing sleep only to have to wake up that next morning for even more 8 AM meetings. I missed classes and mandatory recitations... I was exhausted, overcome with guilt, and felt powerless. Hours and hours of meetings, writing, and planning for nothing.... once again, with no discussion, the nuclear option was taken..."To protect these students from further harm, and to protect other and future students from similar harm, the MIT Corporation should fulfill its fiduciary responsibility to investigate how the Institute’s senior leadership came to compel the waste of thousands of person-hours of precious MIT student time. The Corporation should then direct corrections to any misaligned programs, policy, or personnel, in order to ensure that MIT upholds its core values, and that students can safely pursue their studies.James J. Pekar, Ph.D.S.B. Physics '81, Senior House resident ’77-'81
We agree that it is appropriate to remove from Senior House anyone who has violated an MIT rule or actively, repeatedly, and affirmatively encouraged rule-breaking behavior. However, it would be entirely inappropriate to prevent any of the rest of us — the overwhelming majority of Senior House residents — from returning home.
As the presidents of MIT’s three undergraduate LGBTQ organizations, we feel compelled to advocate against the dispersion of one of MIT’s largest LGBTQ communities and the destruction of one of its vibrant queer-affirming spaces that has existed for decades in Senior House.
Since her appointment as Chancellor in February 2014, Cynthia Barnhart, PhD ’88 has overseen a variety of changes for student life on campus. Recent actions regarding Senior Haus have proven unpopular with some of the student body. However, Chancellor Barnhart has taken, at her own risk, unprecedented steps towards including students in the decision-making process at MIT over the past three years.
Numerous MIT alumni, including myself, are rushing to protect Senior House from the recent attacks on the dorm and its community. The Senior House community and set of values were a constant source of joy, belonging, and refuge for me and for so many others, during my years at MIT.
SIPB believes that access to a virtually unlimited pool of public IPv4 addresses is a privilege that tremendously enhances the value of an MIT education, both for students learning to build new internet services and for students who use those services. As such, we advocate for a full rollback of NAT deployment on campus networks.
The chancellor responds to ‘inaccurate information’ regarding Senior House and Pilot 2021. ‘This decision is about one thing: providing every MIT student with a safe environment.’
The MIT Administration has announced its inauguration of an experiment on human subjects called "Pilot 2021." They have not yet published the hypothesis they are attempting to test with this experiment. I offer my own hypothesis in the sincere hope that it will be disproved:
My name is Mike Short (’05, PhD ’10), and I'm an assistant professor in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. I'm one of relatively few to have both lived at Senior House and joined the faculty or staff at MIT, and I'm the faculty member serving on the Academic and Well-Being subcommittee of the Senior House Turnaround Team. I therefore would like to offer a unique perspective on the Senior House Turnaround Team and the recently announced Pilot 2021 program.
Last week, Chancellor Barnhart told The Tech that “MIT students” would be housed in Senior House this Fall, but could make no guarantees beyond this vague statement. Below this article on The Tech homepage was a story about the large decline in senior gift donations this academic year, fueled by student frustrations over a lack of transparency and student input in recent student life decisions at the Institute. With the revelation of this newest closed-door decision, it seems clear that MIT has yet to abandon this trend of limited student engagement that may further exacerbate the course of declining donation rates.
When I visited MIT during CPW, I was confused by the students’ usage of the word “culture,” especially with respect to dorms. To me, a dorm was nothing more than a residence, a space where there were twin size beds your feet would hang off the end of, where you wore slippers in the showers. I especially did not understand places like East Campus and Senior House, where there were murals and dyed hair and loud music blaring in the courtyard. These people all seemed to be trying too hard to be scary and weird (and it worked, I was pretty scared), and I had simply wanted to live somewhere clean and mildly friendly. Whatever this “culture” thing entailed, I did not want to be a part of it. I ended up living in Next for all four years of MIT; I lived there because it seemed clean and mildly friendly.
I appreciate and respect the reporting and perspectives that have been published during this semester in The Tech in response to or in connection with President Trump’s travel and immigration executive orders. However, some crucial facts and opinions have been missing which the MIT community deserves to know about, especially in these current troubled times when security threats have become daily news.