The following email was sent today to the MIT faculty and graduate students by Provost Martin Schmidt.
To Members of the Faculty and MIT Graduate Students:
I am writing to share the final report of the Graduate Student Housing Working Group. As I indicated in my earlier communication, I am grateful to former Chancellor and Department of Urban Studies and Planning Professor Phillip Clay for leading the effort to examine the housing needs of our graduate students. The faculty, staff, and students who comprised the Working Group worked extremely carefully and thoroughly to address a range of complex topics related to the graduate student experience on our campus.
Since the draft report was issued in February, we have received thoughtful input from individuals and campus groups largely reinforcing the findings and recommendations of the report, but also adding emphasis to certain themes that were raised. Matters that were specifically reinforced included the special circumstances faced by international students and graduate student families, the desire for open engagement to inform Institute decision-making, the importance of continual evaluation of graduate student housing needs going forward, and a focus on ongoing review of operational and policy matters related to graduate student community life. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide this valuable feedback.
I have carefully reviewed the report's findings and recommendations with President Rafael Reif, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz. The report recommends adding new housing to accommodate 500-600 graduate students. We agree that there is a need for new housing, and believe that the recommended number is a reasonable estimate of this need. Of course, achieving the addition of this much housing will require time and new resources. However, we would like to begin a plan to add new housing, with the recognition that we will need to continuously evaluate this need as the Institute evolves.
As a first step, we have asked the East Campus Steering Committee to assess the feasibility of addressing some of this need in their planning for the Kendall area, as well as addressing the renewal need for Eastgate. In addition, we propose to stand up a West Campus planning effort by the end of the summer which will, among other things, consider locations for new graduate housing in that area. The West Campus planning effort will be modeled after the process recently used for East Campus planning.
The report also recommends that ‘swing housing' be created for capital renewal and that this housing be ultimately assigned for graduate students after the capital renewal is complete. We do not yet have a plan for ‘swing housing', but one is needed and we will make this part of the West Campus planning. Lastly, the report makes a number of recommendations regarding housing policy, support, and operations. Chancellor Barnhart will form a group this summer, with the assistance of the Graduate Student Council, to evaluate these recommendations.
Engagement has been a steady theme throughout our conversations related to Kendall Square, East Campus, and the housing needs of our graduate students. As we move forward in each of these areas, we will ensure that there are continuing opportunities to seek and receive input, and to engage in community dialogue.
Again, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all members of the Graduate Student Housing Working Group and to the Faculty Task Force on Community Engagement in 2030 Planning, which recommended that such an analysis was needed and could serve to guide our path forward.