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Community, Energy Priorities for Hockfield Addressing UA Senate, President Focuses on Community Within, Beyond Undergrad Living Groups

By Benjamin P. Gleitzman

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: The May 9 news article “Community, Energy Priorities for Hockfield Addressing UA Senate, President Focuses on Community Within, Beyond Undergrad Living Groups” reported incorrectly that the MIT Energy Forum took place on Tuesday, when in fact it was held on Wednesday, May 3. President Susan Hockfield addressed the Undergraduate Association Senate last night to highlight MIT’s efforts regarding community and energy, two themes of her May 2005 inaugural address that have since become pillars of her administration.

Also at the meeting, the Senate elected officers for the coming year and voted on constitutional amendments proposed at the previous meeting. Results from the earlier votes yesterday can be found on page 10.

During a short introductory speech, Hockfield first expressed a desire to combat “the virtual wall that runs down Massachusetts Avenue” separating living and learning.

“We’re doing what we can to bridge that divide,” said Hockfield, who pointed toward her monthly meetings with student leaders to gather input and suggestions regarding the student community. Hockfield then spoke about the MIT Energy Forum held last Tuesday that drew more than 800 people, a measure that helped “contribute to solving the world’s energy challenges.”

During a question and answer session following her address to the UA, Hockfield commented on the perceived separation between graduating seniors and recent graduates. Hockfield said over spring break, she met with alumni from many states who expressed a desire to be more engaged with the undergraduate community.

Also mentioned were on-campus dining and mandatory meal plans, specifically their effect on the micro and macro communities at MIT.

“The question is how you offer more dining in a way that is socially and economically feasible,” said Hockfield. “Some dining options in the last five years have been enormously successful while others are less successful.”

Hockfield noted that only one on-campus location was available for her monthly meetings with students, and said that such restricted dining options along with MIT’s demanding work schedule “drive people into artificially frequent microcommunities.”

When questioned about her growing impressions of MIT since her last address to the UA shortly after taking office, Hockfield said that MIT is “very similar to my original perceptions. I love the electricity in the hallways on the campus and around MIT.”

Hockfield also expressed her enormous respect for the students who pursue their work at the Institute with such seriousness. Hockfield noted that of last year’s graduating class, 86 percent had participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. “I wish there was a little more celebration of the excitement and wonder of what goes on here,” said Hockfield.

The President’s closing remarks were centered on Orientation, which she called an “opportunity for contention rather than an opportunity for cohesion” in previous years. “Orientation shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out,” said Hockfield, it should not be “an annual set of disappointments.”

Following the president’s remarks, outgoing UA President John M. Cloutier ’06 outlined new plans for Student Center dining, including the possibility of Subway coming to Lobdell along with Dunkin’ Donuts next fall. While discussions are still in progress, the Subway would accept TechCASH and be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to Cloutier.

The Senate also approved the Finboard pre-appeal allocation budget of $85,283, compared to last year’s figure of roughly $74,000, pre-allocation. The increased pre-appeal Finboard spending will “trim down on appeals,” according to the Finboard Chairman elect, Hans E. Anderson ’08. Last year’s Finboard budget totaled $81,275, post-appeals.