"Charged with the promotion and facilitation of scholarly, cross-departmental, and intellectual interactions among Members."
The Sidney-Pacific Committee for Scholarly Interactions adds a new, academic dimension to community life in a graduate residence. The goal of this committee is to create an atmosphere for very informal interaction between faculty and students with diverse backgrounds and also encourage scholarly and topical interactions between residents themselves.
As a part of this mission, we have been organizing a series of lectures by some of the most distinguished MIT faculty and intellectual pioneers at our residence. These lectures are aimed at a general audience and provide glimpses of the different kinds of research on-campus. Besides this, given the fact that there is an enormous diversity and talent among the residents within the dorm, we welcome activities and possibly sponsor events that promote scholarly interactions among the residents.
Featured speakers this past year (2015-2016) have included:
Dr. Rai Weiss, "100 Years of gravitational waves: The observation of a binary black hole collision"
Drs. Ed Boyden and Alan Jasanoff, "Reverse Engineering and Repairing the Brain and Mind"
Prof. Thomas Heldt: "The Mathematical Dimension of Physiology and Medicine"
Prof. Lawrence Susskind: "The Theory and Practice of Conflict Resolution: From Global Conflicts Over Climate Change to Disputes in the Lab"
CoSI also runs or co-organizes several smaller scale events to foster diverse intellectual interactions such as:
Dinner discussion about a particular topic, such as "The Bubble in Higher Education" or "The Future of the Internet"
"Evenings with" events, which are smaller, more intimate events with invited speakers - resembling more a seminar than a lecture
Inviting professors to the SP Housemaster Hall Dinners, which are run in collaboration with the SP Hall Council
Because MIT students will serve as leaders in the future, it is particularly important that they are environmentally responsible. The Environmental Committee, led by the Environment Chairs is a group of volunteers that promotes environmental awareness by encouraging residents to save energy, reduce trash generation, and recycle as well as organizing educational and outreach programs.
Core responsibilities include:
Overseeing composting program at SP social events and in each of the floor kitchens
Running SP-MORE, the program through which outgoing residents can donate old furniture, kitchenware, and other room supplies to incoming residents
Informing residents of recycling, composting, and reusing policies
Attend GSC sustainability meetings
Order and distribute compost bags to common kitchens
Run the punch card program in SP brunches to give prizes to those who bring their reusable utensils
Other optional activities that were organized in past years include:
Running weekly raffle for bringing reusable eating-ware to coffee hour and brunch
Weekly environmental tip
Maintenance/purchase of new environmental SP inventory items such as reusable shopping bags, clothes drying racks that can borrowed from the front desk
Monthly environmental dinner discussion series
Environmentally-relevant trips, such as to the Casella recycling center
Environmental movie series
"Charged with the establishment of connections and promotion and facilitation of interactions between the Sidney-Pacific and surrounding communities."
Sidney-Pacific is in a unique position at MIT, being only a block away from a residential neighborhood. Sidney-Pacific has engaged in neighborhood outreach, which involves a series of activities with the goal of developing a good relationship with nearby Cambridge residents. We want to show the neighborhood that we have something positive to offer and we want to be good neighbors.
The Outreach Chair is in charge of organizing volunteering events and establishing contact with near-by businesses and community groups.
Typical events include:
Cooking for CASPAR (a local soup kitchen for the homeless)
Movember (No Shave November) Fundraising
Collecting Non-perishable food donations for the Greater Boston Food Bank (spearheaded by House Cup Coordinator as part of the SP House Cup competition)
SP Relay for Life Team
Big Brothers/Big Sisters Mentoring Program
Office of Information
"Charged with the development and maintenance of a visual record of life at Sidney-Pacific."
In addition to two older cameras, the committee now owns a 10 megapixel Canon Digital Rebel XTi, a 580EX flash, and a 17-55mm f2.8 IS lens. Take photos with our professional SLR Camera, available for checkout to Photofile Committee members! Have a chance to get your photos featured in the front lobby. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining our committee.
The main goal of the Photography Committee is to demonstrate what a vibrant, active and social community SP really is. The Photofile Chair regularly updates the photo album on the SP website and manages the photo display in the front lobby. They also oversee several other endeavors such as photo collages and slideshows and the annual photo contest. As a committee member, you will work closely with the Photofile Chair and be assigned to cover large SP events, depending on your schedule. The committee immortalizes good times and memories at SP, as well as maintains a photographic record of all major SP events.
"Charged with the design and distribution of publicity materials for the House Council and the management of the publicity efforts of outside agencies within the House."
The goal of the Publicity Committee is to promote the participation of SP residents in various SP events and activities. Our job is to lure as many people as possible out of their dorm rooms/labs and out to the common rooms, the SP Multipurpose Room, the Prudential Tower, or wherever an SP event may be taking place. Of course, this usually involves producing eye-catching ads/announcements on different kinds of media (posters, flyers, SPTV announcements, etc). We "spread the word" about various events in as many different (and imaginative!) ways as possible. Usually this effort also involves working with the other officers in order to come up with original themes/ideas, and to determine what kind of publicity is needed for specific events.
In addition to helping design posters, the Publicity Committee is in charge of printing and posting publicity for events around SP and campus.
"Charged with the development and scheduling of regular programming for SPTV, facilitation of House Council publicity efforts on SPTV, development and maintenance of a videographic record of life at Sidney-Pacific, and encouragement of resident involvement in SPTV programming development."
The SPTV Committee is in charge of maintaining and creating contents for the flat screens in front of the elevators and in the main lobby. We ensure that all of the monitors and wiring are functioning properly. We post publicity slides for upcoming events, and film events and activities here at SP and upload short clips for anyone who might have missed the action.
You might also notice the "tools" available on the SPTV screens, including weather updates, shuttle times, and lists of upcoming and current events. We're always thinking of new such ways that SPTV can provide pertinent information to any graduate student passing by.
We're always thinking of new ways for SPTV to improve resident life. If you have any interesting ideas on how our monitors can further help you and your neighbors, please let us know!
"Charged with the development and maintenance of the Sidney-Pacific webpage and the SPIDir (Sidney-Pacific Information Directive) Database."
The S-P Web Committee is responsible for developing and maintaining the SP website as well as the web server. The committee has three main goals:
Communication: We aim to build a website that serves as an important communication channel between SP leaders and SP residents, as well as visitors who are interested to find out more about SP in general. We feature the latest announcements and news about activities organized by the SP House Council.
Organization: We are working to design the website into a one-stop shop for all information pertaining to SP, its infrastructure, and the many activities and events. We hope to consolidate all SP-related information within one cohesive database with the website as its graphical interface.
Creativity: Last but not least, we see the entire SP community as a vibrant fountain of creativity, and hope to see its realization in the design and development of this website. This is OUR website! We continue to enhance the SP website through resident's design feedback and suggestions.
Office of Resources
Audio/Visual (A/V) Committee
"Charged with the development, maintenance, and direction of the Sidney-Pacific electronic audio/visual equipment."
The Audio/Visual Committee is responsible for maintaining and updating all the audio visual equipment at S-P. This includes the home theater systems as well as live audio gear for live music events.
Maintenance of A/V equipment in the common space areas (MPR, Seminar room, game room, hall kitchens, hall lounges)
Replacement of damaged A/V equipment
Acquisition of new A/V equipment as required
Provide help setting up A/V equipment for SP events
Inventories of A/V equipment in multi-purpose support room
"Charged with the development and maintenance of the Sidney-Pacific aquarium and education of Members regarding care and appreciation of aquatic creatures."
The Aquarium Committee is responsible for the upkeep of SP's very own fresh-water aquarium in the main lobby. Everyday jobs include feeding the wonderful fishes and aquarium residents and ensuring their home clean and livable (even if yours isn't!). Other responsibilities include:
Feeding the fish and cleaning the tank daily
Purchasing new fish, plants, etc. as necessary
Checking the water temperature and other levels
Cleaning the pumps and filters
Changing the water every month
Educating SP residents about the aquarium and its residents
"Charged with the development and maintenance of public art within the House and the encouragement of artistic expression and appreciation among Members."
The Arts Committee is responsible for enhancing aesthetic sensitivity and promoting appreciation of the arts. We oversee the artwork displayed in the common areas of the building. We provide information about relevant arts-related events to the residents. We run arts-related events such as workshops, seminars, art exhibitions and outings to encourage participation and creative expression, and to involve the work of students in art activities.
"Charged with the organization and encouragement of athletic activities and the development and maintenance of the House Exercise and Game Rooms and other House athletic equipment."
The Athletics Committee helps recruit S-P residents for intramural sports teams and encourages people to help organize and take part in sport tournaments. The Committee organizes events such outings to local sports games (Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, etc.), TV viewing of sport events (FIFA World Cup, World Series, Superbowl), as well as informational talks about exercising and living a healthy lifestyle. The Athletics Committee, along with the House Manager and the Inventory Committee, also help take care of the gym facilities and all sports-related equipment available at the front desk.
"Charged with the development, maintenance and direction of the Sidney-Pacific bicycle fleet."
The Bikes Committee is in charge of maintaining the SP Bike Share fleet and related bicycle equipment, such as bike lights, helmets, locks and tools, available at the front desk. The SP Bike Share program provides all you need in terms of transportation. Check out bikes for only $1 per day, so you can move around, go shopping or take a relaxing ride. Not only do you make Cambridge and MIT "greener", you also do it at your own convenience! Who keeps these bikes running? The Bikes Committee!! The bikes chair also runs our annual Bikes Auction for refurbished bikes and organizes bike trips throughout the year.
"Charged with the processing of House Council financial transactions and maintenance and reporting of House Council financial records."
The Controller is responsible for day-to-day management and stewardship of SP funds. He/she works with the Executive Council to implement the semester-long budgets. All resident reimbursement requests are processed by the controller.
Helping oversee SP finances
The Controller is charged with maintaining day-to-day familiarity with SP's finances.
Approving, processing, and submitting all reimbursement requests
The Controller processes the reimbursement requests, prints reimbursement forms, and submits the requests to the Student Activities Finance Office (SAFO).
Collecting inventory fines/rental fees and depositing them
"Charged with the upkeep of the inventory database and the oversight of front-desk and main lobby resources."
At SP we have many items that residents can borrow from the front desk, including movies, cleaning equipment, board games, sports equipment, tools, and music CDs. The Inventory Committee maintains the inventory and constantly makes new purchases of movies, sporting equipment, magazines, etc. The Inventory Committee is also involved in other front desk functions, such as monitoring the front desk fines system. The Inventory Committee also organizes SP's annual PhD regalia rental.
Information Technology (IT) Committee
"Charged with the development, maintenance, and direction of the Sidney-Pacific Resource Center and other House information technology equipment and education of Members regarding their use."
The Information Technology Committee is here to maintain and improve the Resource Center, to act as a liaison between SP residents and the general MIT IT infrastructure (IS&T), and to facilitate the use of IT related resources. Responsibilities include checking daily to make sure the computers, printers and all other IT equipment at SP are in good state (and that there's a good supply of printer paper and ink toner) and being responsible, along with the Publicity chair, of the large (42-inch) HP poster printer.
"Charged with the development, maintenance and direction of the Sidney-Pacific Music Room and encouragement of musical expression and appreciation among Members."
The goal of the Music Committee is to promote musical expression and appreciation among SP residents. The Music Committee contacts musicians in and around MIT and arranges for them to perform at SP brunches, coffee hours, and BBQs. The Committee also organizes concerts where fellow MIT students take the stage to perform. In addition, we have amazing music facilities which help SP residents vent their musical energy. The Music Committee is entrusted with the upkeep the Music room, maintaining all SP pianos (grand and upright), expanding the music collection at the front desk, and organizing musical events and outings.
"Charged with the development and maintenance of the Sidney-Pacific plants and education of Members regarding care and appreciation of plants."
The Plants Committee cares for the 80+ plants around SP and helps involve SP residents in a bunch of healthy and green activities. Helping look after these plants will give you a true sense of belonging in SP. In addition to watering and caring for all of the plants throughout the building, the Plants Committee also helps organize the annual plants sale during Orientation to make residents give their rooms a more "home" feeling, and various events throughout the year, including fun trips to the Arnold Arboretum, fall foliage and others.
Office of Residential Life
"Charged with the organization of monthly House brunches."
The Brunch Committee is in charge of organizing the monthly S-P brunches, which have become a very popular tradition in graduate student life at MIT. In the past, these have been open to all graduate students and their families, with an average attendance of 250+, and include a rotating menu that includes scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, smoothies, waffles, pancakes, cereal, bagels, pastries, and seasonal fruit. The Brunch Committee is probably the largest committee at S-P, with 50+ volunteers who get up early to cook, cut, serve and clean-up! The Brunch Chairs are in charge of the "behind the scenes" planning, including help with external funding applications, buying fruit from Haymarket and other supplies from BJ's/Costco, and setting up the kitchen and MP room the day of the brunch.
Coffee Hour Committee
"Charged with the organization of weekly coffee-hour social events."
The Coffee Hour Committee aims to foster a sense of community among residents who have had a long day of research or classes and are in need of a break or caffeine boost. Coffee-Hour is organized once per week and has typically occured every Wednesday evening. transforming the Multi-Purpose room into a relaxing atmosphere of food and music, to meet new friends or enjoy the company of good ol' ones. In collaboration with the Cultural Committee, the Coffee Hour Committee also helps put together Cultural Coffee Hours throughout the semester with international food, exciting presentations about unique cultures, and live musical or dance performances.
In the past some of the more unique coffee hours have included:
Open Mic Night
Indian/Chinese/Korean/Persian/Greek/Italian Cultural Coffee Hours
SPTV Iron Chef!
SPTV Family Feud!
"Charged with the organization and encouragement of activities for the cultural enrichment of Members and promotion of intercultural exchange."
The Cultural Committee aims at bridging and building upon the different cultures that exist in S-P in specific and MIT in general. The Committee's activities aim at raising cultural awareness among residents and encourage cultural exchange between students from different countries, ethnicities, and religions. Through many events, residents can get exposed to new communities, unknown places, and forgotten traditions and present their own culture and participate in current international debates.
This is only a small portion of what the cultural committee can do to build upon the cultural diversity and richness of S-P, and events range from in-house cultural forums, dinners, and coffee hours to outings to Boston's most renowned museums and theaters. The Cultural Committee also aims to initiate a debate series in which current social/politics/cultural issues are discussed with key speakers. The Committee also plans to celebrate special regional or country specific cultural events, through which residents get to know the traditions and history of such practiced festivities.
Inter-Cultural Exchange (SPICE) Committee
"Charged with the promotion of intercultural exchange, specifically through the Sidney-Pacific Inter-Cultural Exchange (SPICE) program."
The highly successful and award-winning SPICE program was previously under the direction of the Cultural Committee, but it has been expanded to a committee of its own because of its popularity. In this program, groups of residents from different backgrounds discuss topics such as dating and family life from their own unique cultural perspective over dinner in a relaxed, informal, and friendly atmosphere.
Interest Groups Committee
"Charged with the management and promotion of small interest groups among Members ."
The interest groups committee is composed of an interest groups manager that oversees and stimulates the formation of small groups within the S-P community. The interest groups manager also distributes the S-P student life grants to subsidize group activities such as tickets to museums, zip-car rentals, instructor fees, and more!
"Charged with organizing and encouraging regular and various group outing events."
The Outing Committee is in charge of organizing trips to get residents out of their labs and rooms, and enjoy some of the great things New England has to offer. Events are indoors and outdoors . . . but always outside of MIT! Events include small trips like days at museums and shopping trips, recreational trips like indoor rock climbing, Frog Pond ice skating, and skiing up North, and even and a weekend-long camping and hiking trip. Outings are a way for people to see what great things Boston, Massachusetts, and New England in general have to offer.
"Charged with the organization and encouragement of activities that provide opportunities for social interaction among Members."
The Social Committee organizes dorm-wide activities which give residents a chance to interact and make friends outside of lab. They organize and plan large social events, such as dance parties, barbecues, and outdoor movie nights. They provide direction and help to internal activities to make Sidney-Pacific a cool and exciting place to live. Responsibilities include making sure all events are properly registered under MIT and S-P policies, there are enough burgers and veggies on the grill to feed the masses, people are dancing, and everybody is having fun!
Office of the Hall Council
In charge of creation, planning, publicity, and execution of House Cup events. The House Cup Coordinator is expected to hold between 6 to 8 competitions per year.
Responsible for updating the House Cup section of the SP website (via wiki backend) and distribute awards/certificates.
Determining the entire budget for all House Cup events.
Hall Councilors (13)
The responsibilities of hall councilors include "representing the interests of their respective Halls to the House Council."
Hall councilors are expected to attend and participate in monthly House Council meetings and hall councilor meetings.
In addition, hall councilors are responsible for "organizing activities and encouraging interactions among the residents at the Hall level."
The Hall Councilors play an important role in looking after the residents, making sure residents feel welcome during orientation and part of the Sidney Pacific community during the year. Hall councilors will have a termly budget to organize hall activities or procure hall resources. Some hall councilor hosted events include orientation hall dinner outings, game nights, fondue parties, joint floor barbeques, movie outings, and dinner study breaks to name just a few.
Hall Councilors commonly organize/rally their hall around House Cup events which occur approximately once every 1.5 months. These are additional events put on the House Cup Coordinator which come with their own funding.
Hall Councilors also play a significant role in handling resident conflicts and concerns. Although not officially trained in mediation, Hall Councilors are often the first port of call of residents in trouble or in need and as a result should be familiar with Sidney Pacific and MIT resources available to residents facing difficult situations.
A lot of events, relationship-building with other officers and residents, and learning about the Sidney Pacific government structure occurs in the summer. Although residents are not required to be present at Sidney Pacific during the summer to run for hall councilor, it is strongly recommended that hall councilor candidates be present during the summer.
Why Become an Officer?
By Ioannis Berstatos, Trustee and Former Chair of the Halls
Why should anyone join the S-P Government, and in particular, the S-P Executive Council (SPEC)? Why should anyone 'bother' to go into the government? Let me see...
There are what people would call the underlying reasons: (a) you get to stay in this amazing dorm for at least one more year without having to worry about the housing lottery, and (b) S-P wouldn't really be S-P without the government, in fact, S-P wouldn't really work at all!
However, while I do care about housing and S-P, at the end of the day, I just want to have fun! I want to be able to come back home, after a long day's work, and be able to relax in a casual, friendly environment... chat with my friends over coffee, watch a movie, maybe get away with a free dinner. And that is exactly what you get to do as an officer in S-P. Talk about a self-fulfilling job!
I have been involved with S-P and its governing council since almost the beginning, so I believe I can talk from experience. People in the government are among the most enthusiastic and interesting people I have met in my life. They work hard, but they do so because they like what they do. There's nothing like the sense of personal reward that being of service to others can offer you! Of course, there will always be some argument to resolve and maybe some work-related stress, but overall, this has been a most positive experience. If you can't think of life in S-P without the monthly brunches, the weekly coffee-hours, the extensive movie collection, the amazing web infrastructure, the regular hall events, the list is endless... if you can't think of life in S-P without all of the above and some more, then I know you agree with me. And, at the end of the day, this is why you should apply for a position in next year's government.
So, in summary, be a part of the S-P government simply because:
you want to have fun,
you want to meet and make friends with interesting, enthusiastic people,
you like the community we have here and you want to propagate and enlarge it,
you just like organizing events.
You will get a sense of ownership of the dorm, a sense of belonging. You will learn leadership skills that will prove invaluable later in your life... the really lucky ones might event get to taste Dottie's amazing cooking!
And who knows... you might make a friend from Greece, Iceland, Jamaica, India, Korea, China, Poland, Iran, Canada, Lebanon, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela who will invite you back home for a vacation!
Splendor Starts with S-P
By Krishnan Sriram, Former President and Trustee
I have been asked often, "What makes Sidney-Pacific such a vibrant place? How come Sidney-Pacific organizes really creative events time and again? How does Sidney-Pacific function so smoothly and take good care of its residents?" To many, the answer may seem obvious: it is the contribution of all residents who volunteer. Correct, indeed. However, such an answer is incomplete if one does not appreciate the student leadership within our community. After all, hard-work without direction is meaningless. What is seldom seen at events and outings is the meticulous planning that happens prior. Good planning and organization makes residents want to participate, to volunteer and help out, making it worth their while. Good event hosts rally their volunteer crew, motivate them and make them have fun while contributing their time.
The 50-odd officers in S-P house government are the engines behind all things S-P. While all officer positions are rewarding, each position is unique in character; each individual's personality may very well have a best-fit officer position. Are you a party animal, or a gourmet chef? The Office of Residential life has 8 committees where you might fit. Are you a gadget-freak, or a number-cruncher? Perhaps you will consider the 10 committees in the Office of Resources. Do you like writing, poster design or web design? The Office of Information has 5 committees to whet your appetite. Are you keen to work not just within S-P, but with the rest of MIT and our neighborhood? The Office of the President has 4 committees placing you on the interface with the outside community. Would you rather be the people's representative and a helpful resource for your peers and neighbors? You could become one of 13 Hall Councilors-par-excellence.
The fun does not stop here. If you are up for challenge; if strategic thinking is your passion and if you have what it takes to manage a large group of highly motivated individuals, then look no further. There are five executive positions (affectionately called SPEC): President, VP of Resources, VP of Residential Life, VP of Information and Chair of the Halls.
For those who will need to go through the MIT Housing lottery for next year, an officer position could provide you a one-year exemption allowing you to stay at S-P. There are other incentives: leadership development, building your soft skills, public-speaking and systems thinking.Â To me, the best part was the chance to work with the best and brightest from around the world, many of whom have since become close personal friends of mine.
The next year at S-P awaits your own style into this amalgam of fun. Are you ready? Read ahead for the SPEC election, officer interviews and Hall Councilor election schedule.