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.