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Last Friday, students gathered their books and sleeping bags to stage a “tool-in” in Lobby 7. Calling themselves the “Campaign for Students,” they protested an administration that they claim has excluded students from the decision-making process.
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About 70 students protested for more student representation in Institute decisions during a “tool-in” on Friday, October 17, the first day of Family Weekend, in Lobby 7.

The group organizing the protest called itself the Campaign for Students, also the name of the current initiative to raise funds for undergraduate and graduate education and student life.

Early in the protest, MIT Facilities examined a structure of enlarged dominos falling on to the MIT logo that the group had set up in the lobby due to concerns about the its safety. After this inspection, the protest continued without further disruption.

Tool-in participants approached by this reporter declined to comment on their involvement in the protest.

Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo visited the protest and said that he had a “very friendly” conversation with protestors. “What [the protestors] really communicated to me is that students don’t really have input into a decision-making process … maybe we need to look into that,” he said.

Colombo said, “The next step will be to sit down with [the protesters], and I’ve asked [Undergraduate Association President] Noah Jessop [’09] to join in.”

Jessop said, “We encourage students to express their opinions in constructive manners. We are presently working closely with administration with some of the issues brought up on Friday and working with both the students involved and the administration to address these concerns.”

The group organizing the protest runs a website (http://www.campaignforstudents.com) on which they detail their goals and grievances. “Decisions that affect student life are increasingly being made without regard for student input,” according to the site. The group also references recent changes in dining programs, arrests and disciplinary responses to hacking incidents, and administrative decisions about MIT housing as evidence of this claim.

On the site, they ask that, “Any meeting affecting students must have publicly accessible notes, whether a student is present or not,” and that, “MIT must host monthly town hall meetings with senior administrators open to the entire student body,” among other requests.

A Task Force on Student Engagement was established in spring 2008 to address concerns about the administrative support for students and student involvement in decisions affecting their lives at MIT. The group met for the first time in May and is comprised of four graduate students, four undergraduate students, five administrators, and two faculty members.