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MIT poll surveys student preference for fall semester

Andrew Hudson   ||   Jun 19, 2020  ||   

A new survey conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology asked MIT students how they felt about the return to campus this fall. The survey results point to some concerns around the coronavirus and how the university will implement new safety restrictions.

MIT's student publication, The Tech, breaks down the results of the Student Preference Survey sent to all MIT undergraduates on June 6th. The survey polled 3,517 respondents, consisting of 869 incoming first-year students and 2,648 upper-level sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

The first part of the survey asked students to consider an academic environment with mostly remote curriculum and only some in-person elements for lab or project classes. This plan would also end in-person instruction before Thanksgiving, with students returning home and completing the remainder of the fall semester remotely.

The survey included the university's COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines for students on campus, including a daily health attestation to report symptoms and regular testing to gain access to approved campus buildings at specific times.

Among the survey highlights, 87% of first-year and 83% of upper-level students indicated they would register for scheduled classes in the fall under the university's return policies.

Upper-level student housing preferences broke down as follows:

  • 9% would take a leave of absence this semester
  • 44% indicated that they would request to live in a residence hall
  • 23% in an independent living group
  • 14% near MIT in off-campus housing
  • 1% percent in Massachusetts not near MIT
  • 10% out of state or country.

The survey then described a scenario in which every class was online, with no in-person elements. Under these conditions:

  • 57% of first-year students would register for fall classes and live in MIT-affiliated housing
  • 32% would register for fall classes but not live in MIT-affiliated housing
  • 22% would defer their enrollment.

The survey also posed the scenarios where “therapeutic treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 are not widely available.” Under this stipulation:

  • 51% of first-year students who would register for fall classes would prefer living with a roommate over living in a single.
  • 56% of upper-level students would prefer a single
  • 41% of upper-level students would prefer a roommate
  • 3% of upper-level students would live in non-university affiliated housing.

The second part of the survey, detailed in The Tech report, polled undergraduates about their preferences between three possible calendar scenarios for the 2020-2021 academic year.

It's expected that all students at MIT will be tested immediately upon return to campus and must self-quarantine until a follow-up test one week later shows up negative. Should the follow-up test be positive, the student must continue to self-isolate and test until they can produce a negative result.

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