Summer FAQ 03, July 17, 2020

This email continues our weekly series of FAQ’s. As always, some questions are amalgamated. If you asked a question that you do not see here, please let us know ASAP so we can respond and include in next week’s list as well. We remain grateful to all of you as we seek to navigate the complex questions of how best to serve our Department community, and its mission of learning, making, and impacting the world. As ever, please send any follow-up questions to this email.

Please note that we are also sending out emails this afternoon with more information on the fall in general. To follow up on those emails, we will be holding our mid-summer Town Hall on Monday, July 20 at 5:30 PM in collaboration with ASC, and will look forward to sharing any substantial questions raised in that forum, as well as their answers, with you as well.

Visa and Immigration questions:

Thanks to a suit filed by the MIT Office of the General Counsel in collaboration with Harvard, ICE has withdrawn its proposed restrictions on F-1 visas for the fall. As ever, students with questions about their individual situation are encouraged to contact the International Students’ Office. As detailed in previous FAQs, our larger strategy for the fall remains to offer the most opportunities for in-person making and physical access to campus for students able to be in Cambridge, but also to maximize support for off-campus students through improving the quality of online construction and support for off-campus creative work as well. These will be detailed more extensively in an email to students this coming week as well.

General Questions:

1. When will we hear about fall option studios in the M.Arch. program?

Now! While full details will be shared by these instructors during the option-selection process at the beginning of the fall semester, we will offer M.Arch students the opportunity to participate in one of the following studios:

  • Led by Anton Garcia-Abril, a studio on conceiving and modeling digital operations on the earth remotely.

  • Led by Rania Ghosn, a studio on the US food landscape –and the paradox of abundance and insecurity– that imagines other possible spatial contracts, in speculative fictions,  cuisine experiments, and everyday actions on architecture and the city.

  • Led by John Ochsendorf in collaboration with the MASS Design Group and Sara Jensen Carr, a studio on public health and environment in K-12 schools for pandemic resilient learning

  • Led by Rafi Segal and Alan Berger, a Joint Urban Design studio on Race and Housing in Boston, in collaboration with DUSP and the Boston Society of Architects.

2. If I’m doing my thesis next year, can I spread my tuition over two semesters? 

No, that is not an option with MIT tuition policies (which are set by the provost.) However, we are offering a process for students doing their thesis in the fall to apply to move to the spring, separately from the process of deferring a full year. Expect an announcement of the process for this procedure next week. 

3. When will we hear about requests for deferral and leaves of absence? What happens if my request is not approved?

We aim to address all requests received by July 20 by the end of next week. 

As a reminder, this is a process simply for approving a guaranteed return to an equivalent financial aid package after a leave of absence, not determining whether you are eligible to withdraw and return at all. In the event that we are not able to offer a student a guaranteed return to an equivalent financial aid package, you are simply agreeing to have your financial aid package re-assessed with students entering the program when you return. 

As further background, from last week’s FAQ: “Because of the structure of MIT’s funding of departments and student fellowships, it is much harder for us to hold on to and ensure continued financial aid for students in our longer programs like the M.Arch. and Ph.D. because of the escalating effects of deferring financial support over time. As a result, offering a blanket deferral to all students risks damaging our ability to support students remaining at MIT, which we are anxious to avoid.”