This week I introduced myself and the goals of HIA to the organizers of TGBSM and Occupy MIT. Both organizations were interested in either connecting with other groups or documenting themselves to increase visibility. A few interesting issues cropped up involving membership, ASA recognition, and history: how to best reach MIT students- how it has been done in the past and what the best tactics are for today.
Things I noticed:
- TGBSM is 2.5 years old, Occupy MIT began in the Fall, and The Forum came into existence about 1 year ago. Their approaches, focuses, and motivations are all different. This definitely justifies having different groups. The organizations are interested in reaching the same population- Undergraduates and in the case of TGBSM graduate students as well; however, each struggles to get the manpower to produce a meaningful and dedicated interaction. The question arises as to whether student run and led organizations- new and evolving- are the best forms to spur student interaction. What about once off events?
- The current approach of Undergraduate organizations with social aims has a positive and a negative side:
+ Individuals get to engage in the formulation of something new. This is very empowering and helps MIT students to get the skills that they need to go out into the world and create an environment of their own. Their is no reliance on the institute- in some cases organizations do not even become recognized by the ASA until later as a result. (HIA for example)
- Establishing continuity, a substantial leadership pool and an effective spread of leadership can be difficult. As argued by an SAO representative: Reconstructing best practices can be a tedious and unneeded burden that MIT students often take on as they create organizations. These pressures may cause the organization to be short lived, not lasting beyond the group of motivated individuals that sculpted it.
My meetings confirmed the need for some institutional support and connection between these individuals. There are now ppl looking to contribute their message and put their hands and minds to work on the website proposed and the individual projects within it: INFOGRAPHIC and HEADSHOT CAMPAIGN**.
The first infographic workshop will take place tomorrow.
The final development is he meetings and discussed the format of the upcoming Service Dinner to see if I could seamlessly build in acquiring headshots as a way to start generating some visibility for the campaign to build links between the MIT Undergrads that care about and work to tackle social issues.
Important Comments & Thoughts:
I heard a really nice comment that resonated with me at the TGBSM meeting:
In order to have deep conversations without confrontation we speak from our experience instead of from head knowledge.
The same idea was expressed by Robert LePage at the first meeting of 21M.805 the Performance and Design Practicum.
With social movement it is important to understand one’s community and it is often re-examined by new groups- this is probably a good exercise as it legitimizes an organization and gives them the opportunity to network. Idea expressed by one of the Occupy MIT members.
** On the Hand of the HEADSHOT CAMPAIGN I spoke with the other members of HIA to see if we could generate the first headshots at the Service Dinner. AJ and SRV are seeing if they can make the action fit.
I have received a lot of concern on the side of what I hope to accomplish. I hope that can be ameliorated through some of the statements below.
Monday HIA Meetings are a recurring opportunity to evaluate the design of the proposed website in terms of other HIA goals. This helps to put HIA’s desires out on the table.
Meetings with the actual community partner are in the works and will take place:
Interest has been communicated to one of the organizers of The Forum, an MIT student group that has politically relevant discussions. A time to meet will be set this weekend.
Next Tuesday 6-7PM I will attend the TGBSM group meeting. To format that meeting in the right light I will send an email to the group’s organizers.
Tentative CoDesigned Workshop || The Infographic
Grunt Work || Headshots and PSC and SAO Student Group Resource Documentation
I met with two groups this week- Service Leaders at the first HIA/PSC Service Leader Dinner and a group of concerned students at The Forum’s MIT+150: Dysfunctional Wisdom event. Both were incredibly enlightening and showed me the students and voices that I should try and tap into.
I stepped into the Service Leaders Dinner with a new set of goggles, those that I am starting to construct with the ideas of co-design. Ajoke and Srav, members of HIA organized the event with the guidance of Sally, the Director of the Public Service Center (PSC) over IAP. I am really excited to say that some really great things resulted.
We had a really strong crowd. Along with PSC Director Sally and the head of the Student Activities Office (SAO), Leah Flynn, there were about 14 people in attendance, the directors of Amphibious Achievement, the heads of MIT’s Global Poverty Initiative, the founders of MIT’s Relay for Life, the heads of China Care and a couple of solo players like a project leader from the International Development Club and one of the new heads of InnoWorks. Even though it was our first dinner I think that everyone took something away. The admins were able to get more feedback about what MIT students know about the resources that are available to us and the undergrads representing these organizations reported that they enjoyed sharing their experiences and got something out of sharing their battles in forming and/or maintaining their organizations.
There were a lot of small things that the SAO and PSC were advised to pursue like creating videos instead of holding workshops on topics like leadership and using MIT resources along with some more structural knowledge such as the fact that SAPWeb a common learning hump for MIT treasurers cannot be revamped.
After attending the Forum and the Service Leaders Dinner I would like to design closely with two parties. First and most relevant to HIA’s current vision, the Student Service Leaders: there are some well defined and high impact needs that they present. The other group is the group of students that people that showed up to the Forum’s event. Right now my motivation is character.
Both the Dysfunction discussed at the Forum Event and the inadequacies outlined at the Dinner can be talked about from that frame of reference.