Last Tuesday, I wrote to the housemasters with the announcement that I had decided that the role of the Residential Life Associate in the residence halls should be enhanced, so that the residential system could better support undergraduates living on campus. The plan I announced would increase the number of RLAs, so that one could be assigned to almost every dormitory, and would increase the required education and experience, so that students, housemasters, and GRTs would have access to a higher level of expertise.
In the May 1, 2012 issue of The Tech, Barun Singh provides an opinion piece in which he strongly criticizes the administration and the Corporation of the Institute for what he perceives as a series of failures and mismanagement. I am concerned that students reading the op-ed will get the harmful impression that support is lacking at MIT, precisely when we are making a concerted effort to increase awareness of the broad network of support available to students. Moreover, as MIT enters finals period, it would be a tragedy if this misperception prevented anyone from seeking help during these stressful weeks, so I want to correct any misimpressions: if you are feeling overwhelmed or isolated, MIT has resources throughout the community for you.
I am writing in response to Stephen Tsai’s letter. Stephen has given me a fresh understanding of what pain and loneliness can feel like on our campus, and the accounts he gives of his and others’ experiences and feelings will remain with me as I lead efforts to review our support services and the ways we make them available to community members. Stephen, thank you.