A parent shares the results of her investigation into MIT’s participation in the Healthy Minds Study
To the editor:
In Spring of 2015, my son and about 1300 of his fellow undergraduates at MIT participated in a survey conducted by the Healthy Minds Study (HMS). When the final results of that survey were released one year later, the MIT administration took actions specifically focused on the residents of one dorm, Senior House, justifying it by mentioning survey data concerning mental health and substance use issues in the residence.
My son was dismayed to hear of the actions taken, since like other students he had believed the housing data gathered was based on the broad categories asked in the survey such as on or off campus housing, not by specific living group. Although, not living at Senior House, he was not directly impacted by the administrations actions, he stated that if he had known how the data would be used against fellow students he would never have participated.
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.
Latest E-mail from Chancellor Barnhart:
I wrote last month that significant change is needed in Senior House. President Reif, Provost Schmidt, Vice President Zuber, and I made that decision together.
The reaction from the Senior House community has reinforced our decision. The misinformation, denials, and responses – online, in emails, and in person – violate MIT values. We no longer believe that first-year and continuing students living in Senior House next year will be able to define for themselves their own community values and living experience.
This has led us to conclude that our plan to re-set the undergraduate experience in Senior House is unworkable. Senior House is now closed to undergraduates, and it will reopen in the fall to graduate students. We continue to stand by our responsibility for providing all MIT students with safe residential environments, and we intend to fulfill that obligation.
You recently received your alternate fall housing assignment. If you have any questions or concerns about dining, financial aid, work study or any other topic associated with moving, please do not hesitate to contact David Randall or Jennifer Hapgood-White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: Plans of repopulation abandoned: Senior House to become graduate housing (The Tech, July 13, 2017)
we need you — to help with the murals!
we need help identifying who painted what and when. you can go wild on this. (you can now edit). If you’re not sure, please put a ? after the entry.
The MIT museum plans to hire a photographer to take archive quality photos of up to 10 of the most significant murals. Instead of pointing a camera at a mural and taking one photo, the photographer would take many, many photos, stitch them all together, and come up with one very large data file. it’s not so much # of murals as it is “hey we have x number of hours to accomplish this task.” so it will be a ranked top 10 with the expectation that not all would get this extra special treatment.
we’re looking for people to fill in what their preferences are, and then a group of us (sh–mural) will rank the top choices. you can vote for your top 10 murals. The instructions are in the upper left hand corner. don’t screw it up (Yeah yeah, i know its not the best method for ranking, but you know what they say — life sucks and then you die). After everyone votes, Katy Gero, Gabe Cira, and I will look at the results and talk about it, and then let you all know what we think the top 10 should be ranked at.
- Original works of art. many of the murals in the house which we love dearly aren’t original to the house. because of copyright stuff, we want to capture works by the house, not copies. interpretations of other people’s art is fine. some of the ones in the voting list are not originals. deal with it.
- Cultural significance to the house. interpret as you will.
- Likely to be painted over. This is a bit tricky cause we don’t know which hallway murals will be painted, but basically anything behind or on a door is going to be painted as far as we know at this point. so — all suites, all rooms, all doors, and towers (is towers a suite???). my best guess that anything that isn’t “wholesome” or has sport death will also be painted.
- well executed. we’re taking super high res photos. if the mural itself is not of the best execution, then the photos we have now might suffice to document the photo.
Here are all the photos in case you want to nominate some others I haven’t listed yet.
Here are murals we haven’t photo’d yet, but you might want to remember.
Only Lies Can Kill You…
In the two weeks since we shared with Senior House students our plan for next year, I have received many messages from the MIT community, and stayed in regular contact with student leaders from Senior House, Dormcon, and the UA. I am listening, as I have tried to do throughout this entire process. And I am grateful to everyone for keeping the lines of communication open.
I’m writing because many of the concerns people are bringing to me are based on inaccurate information and a misunderstanding of what brought us to this point. What I find most troubling are the accusations that this is somehow intended as an attack on vulnerable populations or on students’ ability to self-govern. This decision is about one thing: providing every MIT student with a safe environment.
I want to be clear about a few more things…
UPDATE: Senior House residents respond to Chancellor Barnhart (The Tech, July 6, 2017)
Three presidents of MIT’s LGBTQ organizations respond to Pilot 2021. [READ MORE]
We have expressed our concerns to the administration regarding the consequences of their plans to repopulate Senior House and adopt the new Pilot 2021 program. We met with Chancellor Barnhart and Dean Nelson to voice our fears that their vision for a “new community” will not preserve the queer-affirming space that has existed in Senior House, and will scatter its LGBTQ population across campus…
They have told us their concerns that maintaining Senior House as a queer-affirming space will unfairly pressure the new community into adopting values of the old. The number of upperclassmen who want to return to Senior House to maintain a queer-affirming community and the interest expressed by many first-years toward such a space leads us to believe that this concern is mostly unfounded. We feel the overwhelming positive contributions of the LGBTQ community in Senior House are being unappreciated and undervalued, and that administration is ignoring a demonstrable demand from incoming and current students to uphold a queer-affirming environment in Senior House.
The demographic statistics of MIT Dormitories are available below for context. LBGTQ Identifying (%LGB) is indicted on the X-axis; Underrepresented Minorities (%URM) is indicated on the Y-axis. Red lines indicate 25%.