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Dean's Office Hosts Second Open Forum

By Frank Dabek
staff reporteR

Free pizza and a chance to meet the deans from the Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs drew about 12 students to the second in a series of open meetings with students Tuesday evening.

Students asked questions on topics ranging from the role deans play to licensing fees for class rings. In addition, the deans asked students questions about the best way to improve communication with the student body. The next such meeting will be Thursday, Dec. 12 in 26-110.

The Dean's Office was represented by Dean for Student Life Margaret R. Bates, Dean for Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Robert M. Randolph, Director of Administration and Operations Stephen D. Immerman, and Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Margaret A. Jablonski.

Students decided to attend the meeting for a variety of reasons.

Graduate Student Council Housing and Community Affairs Committee Co-Chair Geoffery J. Coram G was simply "interested in seeing what's discussed" and wanted to voice concerns about licensing fees for Graduate School class rings. He said, however, that though "a lot of information will be exchanged, nothing will be accomplished."

Laura A. Montalvo '99 was interested in being on the dean's advisory committee. The advisory committee is intended to be a group of students that the Dean's Office can continually tap for input.

Others admitted simply coming for the free pizza.

Students ask about deans' roles

After speaking informally with the deans over pizza, the students and deans broke into a discussion group. The first question posed to the deans asked what exactly the role of a dean was. The same question had been asked at the first deans' open forum.

Bates called the Dean's Office a "first aid station for the university."

The focus of the office is the "education of the whole student," Williams said.

"What happens outside the classroom has as much importance as what happens inside," Immerman said.

Jablonski said that the office should be proactive and help students "grow and develop as people" by asking "how do you deal with stress."

Randolph said that a dean's role is to "help [the faculty] do what they can't do."

Graduate issues discussed

Coram asked about fees imposed by the Technology Licensing Office on class rings. As a member of the GSC, he was concerned about the price increase that the imposition of the fee had caused. The fee - for use of the MIT logo and name - is currently 7.5 percent.

"We don't want to charge ourselves a fee," but the fee does apply in this case, Bates said. She said that she hoped that the funds raised by the fees would be available to fund class activities and that the fee will be absorbed and not passed on to undergraduate students.

Andrew J. Rhomberg G voiced concerns about the International Students Office's move to the Office of Graduate Education. He questioned the logic of the move and asked, "Where do we fall?"

Williams called the move pragmatic and said, "The move to Graduate Education was a good thing. It links the ISO with people and a data system."

There was also discussion concerning expanding the ISO from its traditional role of dealing with paperwork to include other services like counseling.

Deans seek ways to get more input

The deans asked for student advice on the best way to "lower the threshold of access to deans," as Immerman said. He proposed a central e-mail address as one way to "identify ourselves as a place where students can get problems solved."

A student suggested a meeting during Residence and Orientation Week with the deans so that freshmen could meet and understand the responsibilities of each dean. Other suggestions included advertising on MIT Cable and holding forums in living groups.

Immerman also asked the group if The Tech was a good vehicle for receiving information.

Kimberly L. Miller '97 suggested that a school-wide colloquium be held on the topic of community service. She described an event that would draw a large part of the school to Kresge Auditorium and then break up for small discussions at different living groups.

This kind of an undertaking would involve an enormous amount of work, Immerman said.

However, the community experience of bringing together such a large group of people would be valuable, Bates said.