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Undergraduate Association Goals, Fall 2006

Undergraduate Association Goals, Fall 2006

This is the mid-semester update for the Undergraduate Association’s Fall 2006 goals. The Tech will evaluate the success of the committees at the end of the semester.

* Goals were either modified or added since the first publication of the UA goals on Sept. 19, 2006

UA Committee Goals for Fall 2006 Progress
Executive Committee Construct a new Web site with interactive features (votes, polls, and forums) to help the UA to better gauge student opinions. A student Web designer has been found, and a skeletal Web site (http://scripts.mit.edu/~ua/drupal) is already running that has the capability to host votes, polls, and forums, but additional features and pages are needed before it formally goes online.
Create undergrads-inform@mit.edu, an optional list for all undergraduates to disseminate information regarding pressing campus issues that could have an effect on student life. The committee has spoken to Information, Services & Technology and discovered technical hurdles to establishing an undergrads list permitting unsubscriptions. Efforts are continuing.
Work more closely with Institute and faculty committee representatives to ensure that the UA has the pulse of the faculty and the administration. A forum with all committee representatives will be held in late November followed by a banquet in early December for all committee representatives and faculty committee chairmen.
Increase the level of competition for Senate seats and improving voter turnout for all UA elections. Voter turnout actually decreased compared to last fall: 1,160 votes decreased to 1,083.
Cultivate a stronger relationship with campus media outlets, including weekly or bi-weekly UA Q&A interviews. The Tech and the UA have produced weekly Q&As as well as this mid-term goals checklist.
Focus resource development efforts on finding sponsors for undergraduate student groups and activities. A number of companies have been contacted, but no plans have been finalized. Care is being taken to push this in an amenable and unobtrusive direction.
* Evaluate the MIT Cable offerings and recommend changes as necessary. Discovery Channel has already replaced MIT Weather When You Want It. Comedy Central, Sci-Fi, and MTV are scheduled to replace Bloomberg, C-SPAN2, and mtvU in January 2007.
Committee on Athletics Examine Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation managerial infrastructure to seek ways of improving its operation efficiency and cost effectiveness. Since 2001, DAPER has outsourced the management of its facility to Health Fitness Corporation, a provider of fitness management service with more than 400 fitness centers across North America. The committee is preparing to submit a report before the end of the term on the status of HFC’s operations, its relationship with DAPER, and its current role within the MIT community six years since it began its service.
Organize sports tournaments to foster and increase student participation in athletics on campus. The committee is contacting various club basketball teams from other colleges in Massachusetts to invite them to MIT for a basketball tournament. The committee hopes to hold the event during the Independent Activities Period..
* Implement student input and suggestions regarding DAPER operations and facilities. The committee is currently working with the UA Executive Committee to assess the proposal to slightly increase the Student Life Fee so that DAPER will have more money to provide better services, facilities, and programs for the MIT community.
Committee on Campus Sustainability Establish MIT as a global leader in the realm of sustainability by drawing from all schools and departments. Establish a self-sustaining grant with 20 $25,000 amounts for release in Spring 2007.
Create a proposal for a built environment which generates energy, processes waste, demonstrates new innovative building technologies, supports a vibrant learning community, and lays down a path for structure retrofit. Complete design of three CAD models, one of the new graduate dormitory, one of the proposed Energy Research Council center, and one of a radical think-and-do tank to demonstrate prototype technologies. Beginning audit of all buildings on campus, and putting green roofs on at least one building by Summer 2007.
Investigate how MIT uses capital on campus, and evaluate how financing for sustainability initiatives might best be located, locked in, and used effectively. Beginning relationship with MIT endowment office to investigate how the endowment is invested and whether on-campus rates of return might be high enough to justify local investment.
Investigate and report on MIT’s ecology and use of consumables for community and research use. Establishing protocol for a 90 percent decrease in energy and materials for research and a 25 percent reduction in cost for community consumables.
Work to make the average MIT undergraduate a more aware, compassionate and wise global citizen. This is met by the self-sustaining grant mentioned above.
Committee on Dining Work with Campus Dining to promote a student survey to help fill the remaining storefronts in Lobdell Food Court. The survey went out and was well received.
Continue to work to improve late-night dining options on campus. When Subway opens, it will stay open until 11 p.m. weeknights. More work remains to be done regarding dormitory dining hours.
Organize a joint event with the Graduate Student Council to publicize the diversity of dining options on campus. Tentative discussions have taken place with the Graduate Student Council and Dining for an event to take place early next semester after the opening of Subway and Au Bon Pain.
Continue to explore increased breakfast options on campus. The success of Jamba Juice in the Dining Survey is a step in the right direction but more work remains to be done.
Student Committee on Educational Policy Draft an advisory report compiling undergraduate feedback regarding the recommendations of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons. The committee is working with the Student Advisory Committee on the recommendations of the Task Force. After a town hall meeting a few weeks ago was held to collect student feedback, an online survey was just released to collect more quantitative data. The current plan is to write a student report over IAP.
Work with the faculty to increase awareness of term regulations and resolve violations. The committee has been in contact with faculty over violations received through the SCEP Web site (http://web.mit.edu/ua/www/committees/scep/termregs/report-violation.shtml), and all of them have been resolved.
Work with faculty and administrators to demonstrably improve undergraduate advising. The committee has incorporated feedback received from faculty on a brochure the committee created titled “How to Get Advice.” It will serve as a resource for all students on how to make the most of their advisors. The brochure is going to be printed by the end of the term so that it can be distributed at the beginning of the spring term.
Create a “Guide to Educational Policy at MIT” for incoming freshmen. The committee has compiled information for the brochure, including term regulations, reporting violations, and educational resources. The brochure is currently being laid out and the plan is to print it by the end of the term so that it can be distributed at the beginning of the spring term.
Committee on Housing Ensure significant student input and involvement in the transition of Ashdown House to an undergraduate dormitory. The committee is currently looking for speakers for an Ashdown forum. Interested parties should e-mail ua-housing@mit.edu.
Provide for student involvement in the decision-making process regarding undergraduate dormitory renovations and “swing” housing. The issue is currently under consideration by the committee. A rough version of the committee’s position will be included in the committee’s December report.
Investigate the needs and the future of cultural houses at MIT and how they integrate with other elements of the housing system. The committee is debating upon the Review on Cultural Houses unveiled by the Housing Strategy Group in November and will present its opinions in December.
Publish reports regarding the committee’s opinion on important housing issues at least twice a term. Input-a-palooza! housing survey is being used as a diagnostic tool and raw data for the committee’s report. The first draft of the report will be out in December, and the full report will be completed sometime in the spring.
Investigate the practicability of returning full telephone service to dormitories. The issue was included in the Input-a-palooza! survey and will be addressed in accordance with what the majority seem to prefer.
Committee on Orientation Work with the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming and Student Life Orientation Planning committees to better showcase undergraduate student activities to incoming freshmen. The meetings to plan the Orientation schedule for next term have not begun yet. The committee will send a member to the preliminary fall meetings and also to the SLOPE Orientation planning committee. In the meantime, the committee has compiled a report on Orientation documenting important student issues.
Work to make the UA-supported Tuesday Night State Center “T-Party” a recurring event, clarifying how the Association of Student Activities restrictions on advertising apply to this event. Committee member Erik D. Fogg ’09 has volunteered to lead this effort. The UA Report on Orientation has sections dealing with the importance of student groups.
Investigate the rescheduling of the Mathematics Diagnostic Test to Orientation Week; if necessary, work to reschedule the exam to a more amenable time slot. The committee has spoken to Physics Professor Thomas J. Greytak who explained that a significant difference was observed between the test’s score distributions on years when the test was taken by mail over the summer and years when the test was taken during Orientation. The Physics Department has said it is interested in working to schedule the test at an amenable time during Orientation but has said that the exam will probably not revert to its former summer mailing.
Work to support the Virtual CPW project to help admitted students get a better idea of the strength of MIT student life even if they are unable to attend Campus Preview Weekend. Committee member Valery K. Brobbey ’08 (also a Tech staff reporter), who worked on Virtual CPW last year, is leading the effort again this year. Getting Virtual CPW recognized as a student group is currently under consideration.
Perform annual post-Orientation feedback sessions to identify the best and worst elements of the orientation experience from the freshmen who went through it. The committee conducted a freshman survey visitng five dormitories from Oct. 9–12. The following week an online upperclassmen survey was conducted. Results were tabulated and, together with statistics from the Department of Housing’s earlier surveys, a UA Report on Orientation was written. The report was approved at the most recent UA Senate meeting.
Committee on Student Life Promote, staff, and administer the new Undergraduate Mentorship Program. The Undergraduate Mentorship Program is underway as planned. The committee is getting feedback from the mentor pairs and is handling problems that arise.
Investigate and draft a report in response to student complaints regarding MIT Medical quality of service. The committee is currently gathering data through multiple surveys and drafting a report that will be available by the end of the semester.
Committee on Student Space Planning Conduct an inventory of existing student spaces on campus, analyze their strengths and deficiencies, and present this information on the committee Web site. The committee will be doing most of the legwork in building this inventory duirng November and will launch the Web site in December.
Invite feedback from the student body on the need for new spaces or improvements that can be made to existing spaces utilizing surveys, public meetings, and Web forums. The committee polled the student body on the future of the Student Center game room and proposals for Student Center expansion in the DormStorm survey. These projects will be brought to the UA Senate for review.
Develop a vision for the long-term future of the campus, and build relationships with the MIT Department of Facilities, the administration, and other key players in forming the new campus. The committee has met with Philip J. Walsh, director of the Campus Activities Complex, to discuss upcoming projects that relate to student activity space and will be helping to select artwork to place in the Building 10 Community Lounge and the Student Center’s fifth floor Reading Room.
Produce an official report of all the above findings for public access. This will be available at the end of spring term and will review all of the committee’s activities from the year.
Finance Board Improve communication between groups and liaisons (including regular Finboard Office Hours). Office hours were held last week. http://web.mit.edu/finboard/www.
Improve overall allocation usage by better leveraging past data and spending trends. FinBoard is incorporating previous spending trends on allocations, which has helped identify underspenders and has reduced publicity and printing allocations.
Provide for a longer institutional memory span by making previous usage statistics more accessible. A new liaison page for future FinBoard members has been added. Members can have access to information we post for internal use.
Investigate the creation of a capital start-up fund for new groups. Applications are currently out and are due Nov. 22. They will be addressed IAP and Spring 2007 allocations.
Nominations Committee Improve communication with advocates so that, if there is a problem, the committee is always in the know. Starting in December, regular forums will be held to improve communication with advocates. Blog updates will also keep advocates informed.
Train student advocates and utilize an improved Web site to track issues being discussed among the various Institute and faculty committees. A blog that is part of the new UA Web site has been set up that will be coming online soon before the rest of the site does.
Throw an advocate banquet to increase communication between faculty and advocates. The banquet will be held Dec. 1.

Source: Undergraduate Association and UA Vice President Ruth Miller ’07