Associate Dean of Student Support Services David Randall has responded to several anonymous MIT Confessions posts about S^3, some of which detail negative experiences with particular deans at S^3.
In an email to The Tech, Randall said that he finds the concerns expressed online very troubling. “Every student should leave our office feeling heard, understood, respected, and supported,” he said.
Randall confirmed that he himself had posted confession #4801, in which he invited students to come to him personally with any problems they encounter at S^3 so that he can work with staff and students to make improvements.
“I do think we have a good track record of making the changes students want to see,” he said, citing satisfaction surveys. “Everyone who meets with a S^3 dean now has the option to provide anonymous, confidential feedback so that we know what we’re doing well and what we need to improve on.”
S^3 has been sending these surveys at the end of each month, for the past three semesters, to students who visited the office. Randall claims that these surveys have indicated that the “vast majority of people are satisfied with their experience” at S^3.
Randall said that it is impossible to follow up with students’ complaints when they are made anonymously and urges students to speak with him directly. However, some students fear that expressing negative opinions about S^3 will damage relationships with deans.
“Expressing feedback at S^3 will not have negative repercussions and switching deans will not have negative repercussions,” Randall said in an interview with The Tech. “I look into every complaint that I receive.”
Randall emphasized that he thinks that in-person conversations are “the best platforms to voice concerns, share ideas, and problem solve.”
Some posts suggested that some deans have responded inadequately to students who had experienced problems such as sexual assault, hospitalization, and mental health issues. Others said that they received extreme responses to seemingly manageable problems.
When asked if deans are supposed to respond to the same problems in the same ways, Randall said that S^3 does its best to be “as consistent as possible” but adds that the deans are “all human beings and all respond in [their] individual ways.”
One poster revealed that they no longer felt comfortable going to S^3 after reading the negative confessions. Randall encourages students to seek help from S^3 if they are experiencing difficulties, and to avoid being discouraged by the current controversy.
Randall did not comment on the specifics of any post or the criticisms of any particular deans at S^3 but emphasized the importance of “fit” between the student and the dean. “For certain people, certain deans are not the right fit,” he said.