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Questioning Kolenbrander

Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow’s decision to require the Office of Residential Life and Student Life Planning to report to Associate Dean Kirk D. Kolenbrander requires additional explanation. The change was announced to select members of the MIT administration last week. Bacow should take the effort to explain his decision to students as well because the change directly affects the implementation of the new residence report released in late December.

Bacow has stated that he chose to direct RLSLP to report to Kolenbrander instead of to the Dean of Students because implementation of Bacow’s residence report will be carried out mainly by RLSLP. Bacow’s report named Kolenbrander as the one responsible for overseeing implementation.

The Tech is concerned that Kolenbrander is not prepared for the responsibility of changing MIT’s residential system. In his one year as associate dean Kolenbrander served as process manager for the Residence System Steering Committee. The RSSC reports drew criticism from undergraduates and graduate students alike, not just because of the residence system they suggested but because of the reports’ presentation. Bacow’s final report, in fact, largely ignored the RSSC’s suggestions in favor of the report of his strategic advisory committee.

Also, putting Kolenbrander in charge does not answer the question of what will happen to branches of RLSLP that have little to do with residence system implementation, such as student group services and the Public Service Center.

If the explanation buried in his report were sufficient notification of the change, Bacow would not have felt the need to notify administrators a month after releasing the report -- he should have included students in this courtesy. Students have shown that they care deeply about the fate of the residence system.Throughout last year, students demonstrated their interest in the changes undergoing the residence system, participating in feedback sessions, rallies, protests, and even authored rival residence system proposals to the RSSC plan.

If the MIT administration really views student opinion of the residence system as an important resource, Bacow must formally announce and explain, to students, his decision to put Kolenbrander in charge of RLSLP and the implementation of his report.