What's Next?

In fall 2008, whatsnext.mit.edu was used as part of a protest by the MIT Campaign for Students, a student organization (named after the falsely-named “Campaign for Students” fundraising drive for the MIT administration) opposing several disturbing trends it saw in MIT's treatment of dining, hacking, and housing policy and advocating for greater student involvement and voice in decisions that affect students.

Through late 2008 and 2009, the Campaign for Students organized more protests and events focusing on the growing threat to dining. Through the purportedly-transparent and purportedly-representative Blue Ribbon Dining Committee, whose student members could not report back to their constituents on the discussion, the MIT campus dining program proposed an expensive, poorly-designed program that did not fit with the realities of MIT student life or take into account its harmful effect on student culture. The Campaign leaked the proposal, and the resulting firestorm of discontent enabled the Undergraduate Association to push back on that plan.

The Campaign for Students quieted down soon afterwards, its main legacy a mailing list currently commonly used to discuss changes and trends in student-life policy decisions. Over the next year or two, many of the Campaign's founding members graduated and moved on.

In 2010, a new House Dining Advisory Group, again with the ability to claim student representation and assert its transparency, published a final dining plan with many of the same troubling issues as the Blue Ribbon one. Controversy and unrest slowly grew into a protest in fall 2010.

Although this effort was not instigated by the original members of the Campaign for Students, and while we are unhappy it has come once again to protests, we stand behind them and wish them the best of luck. We know what they face. We ourselves worked in the shadow of ILTFP, which held off unwanted, shortsighted dining “reform” in their orange ribbon campaign of 1999-2000. What's next, now, is the dining petitions circulating throughout campus, and the hope and courage of the organizers is what will defend MIT's unique culture and value. We are grateful for their work, and we encourage you to support them.

The MIT Campaign for Students, November 18, 2010