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New Student Services Center Aims for Convenience


Helen Lin--The Tech
The new Student Services Center will provide students with the basic services of the Bursar's Office, the Registrar's Office, and the Student Financial Aid Office in one location in the Infinite Corridor.

By Shang-Lin Chuang
NEWS Editor

MIT's new Student Services Center opened yesterday in the Infinite Corridor in the space formerly occupied by the Satellite Registrar's Office. The new office is designed to allow students to conduct quick and common transactions without going to more than one office.

The center, which was recommended by the student services re-engineering team as part of their final plan, serves as an extension of the Bursar's Office, Registrar's Office, and Student Financial Aid Office.

Students can now request academic and financial transcripts, change an address, make payments on student accounts, sign scholarship checks and loans, or inquire about the status of academic, financial, and student accounts from one location.

The center also serves as a place where students can pick up or drop off forms like petition requests, add/drop cards, degree applications, tuition adjustment forms, and class schedules.

The center's first day of operation was a full one. "We have been busy all day with students coming in to request transcripts and sign loans," said Senior Office Assistant in the Student Financial Aid Office Carmen O. Velez, who also works in the center.

The center is currently running as a pilot project, said Vice President for Administration Hillary H. DeBaun, who is heading up the project. "If things go well, the center can develop into a much bigger center offering even more services."

Center eliminates inconvenience

"Over the years, students have found it extremely inconvenient to have to travel long distances in order to conduct ordinary transactions," DeBaun said. "After listening to students and looking at other colleges, we decided to implement the center."

"The center was formed to serve students," said Erin E. McCoy, a senior office assistant in the Bursar's Office, who works at the center. Since the office performs functions of the Bursar's Office, Registrar's Office, and Student Financial Aid Office, "students can now come to us instead of going to all three offices."

The Student Services Center serves as the "front end of the three home offices," DeBaun said. "When students want to obtain information or conduct transactions, they can come here first if they want to."

"We don't have any magic to get rid of the lines of students," DeBaun said. "But we can make sure that the students can either conduct the transactions quickly or be referred to the appropriate places."

Students seem to like the new centralized location. "I came in to request a copy of my academic transcript," said Dave A. Tahmoush G. "It is nice not to have to walk the longer distance."

"I came here to sign a loan agreement," said Eytan Adar '97. "This is much more convenient" than going to the financial aid office.

"I wanted to send a transcript and I came in here figuring that it is still" the Satellite Registrar's Office, said Michael W. Tucker '98."This place is now more open and better organized."

Staff members cross-trained

The center is staffed full-time by three people, one representing each of the three offices, McCoy said. "There are nine people on rotation. We each still have a position at our home offices."

However, all the staff members are trained to be able to answer questions relating to all three areas, DeBaun said.

"It is hard to say what the impact is" at each home office, which is now one person short, Velez said.

"We tried to avoid the problem by cross-training, so someone else can do my job," McCoy said. "We still have to wait and see if any problems develop."

"The assumption is that if we take a person away from each of the three offices, we should take with it some of the students requesting services from them," DeBaun said.

The center will be providing services in parallel with the home offices for a couple of months, DeBaun said. "After the pilot phase, which will take about nine months, these and other quick and high-volume transactions will only be done in the center."

"We want the students to feel comfortable coming in to the center first before we move into the full-service center," DeBaun said. "During and after the summer, the home offices will only do more specialized task-like evaluation and analysis of a student's financial aid status."

The office would need to expand space-wise if it became a full service center, but it is not yet clear where the office would look to for new space.