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Grad housing needs more attention

In the recent series of articles on dorm crowding and undergraduate housing, many references were made to the lack of affordable off-campus housing in Boston and Cambridge. The Office of the Dean for Student Affairs is very concerned on how overcrowding in the dorms is affecting the quality of life at MIT.

I wish the ODSA would be as concerned about how the lack of affordable off-campus housing affects the lives of graduate students. This is a topic that has been totally ignored. Less than 30 percent of the total graduate school population can be housed on campus. The waiting list to get into married student housing is so long that it takes a year to obtain an apartment in Westgate or Eastgate. There were 400 names in the Tang Hall lottery last May. Only 69 people were lucky enough to get a place. Since Registration Day, 90 people have signed up for the waiting list, and the Housing Office told me it will probably take until next summer for the 90th student on that list to get into Tang. The demand on Ashdown and Green Hall is just as bad.

Yet, when the Graduate Student Council asked President Gray last spring if MIT would build more graduate housing on campus, they were told that housing is a very low priority on the administration's agenda. In the last couple of years, the off-campus housing situation has deteriorated due to condominium conversion, rapid economic growth and subsequent rent increases on the remaining rental units as demand far exceeded supply. The reasons have been brought up time and time again in the past few weeks. Dean Sherwood acknowledged them in his letter to The Tech last week. In view of all this publicity, why has nothing been said about the plight of graduate students who are affected by it even more than the undergraduates, 90 percent of whom are housed on campus, albeit uncomfortably at present?

Clearly, the numbers stated above show that demand for on-campus housing far exceeds supply. Over three times as many people want on-campus housing as can get in. Yet the administration is unwilling to increase housing, either by building new facilities or buying existing units in the Cambridge area for subsidized housing.

In all the furor of R/O week, everyone has forgotten that MIT has roughly the same number of graduate students as undergraduates. The reputation of this illustrious institution is based as much on graduate as undergraduate education. However, MIT does not seem to want to improve the quality of life for 50 percent of its student population. Dean Sherwood's title is Dean of Residence and Campus Activities. Graduate student residence certainly comes under that mandate. Isn't it time for the administration to start concerning itself with the plight of graduate students? Maybe, in conjunction with the Graduate Student Council, the Housing Office and the Dean for Student Affairs, an improvement in this deplorable situation can be made.

Carolyn Lee G->