Communications with Our Students

By Daniel Hastings, Dean for Undergraduate Education

Our students represent an important set of stakeholders for the work that DUE undertakes. We must be committed to being as transparent as possible with our students consistent with reasonable expectations for the confidentiality which is necessary for good decision making.

We have seen, in this year, a number of student protests over discussions in the administration relative to dining and sports. In each case, most students objected to what they believe was a lack of two-way communication around these issues rather than the specifics of the proposed decision (although some do not want to cancel any varsity sports or impose a dining plan).

While the administration does seek student input and membership in key committees, the perception is that students are not being heard. In the Office of the Chancellor, the three student Deans and the Chancellor have recommitted to meeting with students and hearing their concerns. We hope to open several channels of two-way communication with both undergraduate and graduate students.

Much of this process has been driven by our communication officers. We have initiated a monthly letter to students, launched an ongoing “Dinner with Dialogue” series with randomly chosen students, and setup a means on our web sites for students to send us comments. In the fall, we will pilot “Cookies and Conversation” as an additional venue for talking to students. At the same time, we will be exploring a website that would not only provide students key information about life at MIT but also encourage their input. Finally, I will continue to meet regularly with the UG student leadership and serve on the student engagement committee with the Chancellor and other Deans.

As DUE staff, I know you are committed to serving our students and communicating clearly with them. I would urge all of you to do so in the spirit of providing the best possible customer service so that they know that they can always find a person in DUE who will listen to them. As changes come to MIT, an increased level of communication with all will be necessary to help us move through leaner times.