The Student Activities Office is here for you!
The Student Activities Office provides an environment for students to test new ideas, develop leadership skills and create community at MIT.
As thinking partners, we challenge and support student organizations to take risks and experiment while upholding the importance of student autonomy as a key component of leadership development. As a hub for student leadership development, the Student Activities Office collaborates with student-governing bodies and departments across the Institute to provide co-curricular programming that enhances the student experience. We also support our 500+ student-led organizations by providing individualized guidance, tools, expertise and resources. We help students navigate Institute policies, implement solutions, and practice financial stewardship.
We intentionally thread social justice* and cultural competencies* throughout our programs and work with students to optimize their leadership development. We provide a brave space*for students to be themselves, build community, and find a home on campus.
*Social justice – According to Adams, Bell and Griffin (2007) “social justice is both a process and a goal. The goal of social justice is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs” (p. 3) SAO incorporates social justice concepts into our leadership training workshops and programs to encourage students’ awareness of their identities and to use what they learn at the Institute to improve their communities and the world.
*Cultural competencies – Georgetown University’s National Center for Cultural Competence defines cultural competency as "a developmental process that evolves over an extended period. Both individuals and organizations are at various levels of awareness, knowledge and skills along the cultural competence continuum.” (Definitions found here)
Building on Cross’ definition, Georgetown’s National Center for Cultural Competence suggests that "Cultural competence requires that organizations:
- Have a defined set of values and principles, and demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, policies, and structures that enable them to work effectively cross-culturally.
- Have the capacity to (1) value diversity, (2) conduct self-assessment, (3) manage the dynamics of difference, (4) acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge, and (5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of communities they serve.
- Incorporate the above in all aspects of policy-making, administration, practice and service delivery, systematically involve consumers, families and communities.”
*Brave Space - In a learning environment, “safe spaces” cannot be guaranteed — people experience safety differently depending on their identities and past experiences. SAO encourages instead, “brave spaces” which encourage students to embrace and work through conflict and differences in opinion as part of the process of learning (Arao and Clemens 2013). By acting courageously when facing conflict, students can develop assertiveness and rationale for their viewpoints. We believe that leadership includes an ability to explain one’s perspective as well as engaging in active listening. Brave spaces make both of these contributions possible.