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Institute faces a shortage in graduate housing

By David P. Hamilton

MIT currently faces a shortage problem in graduate housing, according to Gene Brammer, director of campus housing management.

"There has never been enough housing for graduate [students] at MIT," he said. Only 30 percent of graduate students live in on-campus housing.

The Institute may be losing graduate students because of this, said Rene LeClaire, president of the Graduate Student Council (GSC).

The shortage of graduate housing imposes other hardships on the graduate community, LeClaire said.

When graduates are forced to live off-campus, they generally stay within their departments and their social opportunities are extremely limited, he said. This also limits the extent to which graduates interact outside their departments, he added.

"Furthermore, it's difficult to find good, cheap housing," LeClaire said. "It's even tougher if you're married or an international student."

Graduate students live on campus as graduate residents in undergraduate dormitories or in one of five graduate residence halls: Ashdown House, Eastgate, Green Hall, Tang Hall and Westgate.

About 60 graduate students are graduate residents, Brammer said. The five graduate residence halls can house 1256 single and married students in either dormitory or apartment environments.

In addition, Campus Housing Management runs an Off-Campus Housing Service that posts requests for roommates and lists of apartments for rent in the Cambridge and Boston areas.

Graduates make extensive use of the Off-Campus Housing Service, LeClaire said. "We'd even like to see it expanded, if possible."

There has been a continuing effort to create new opportunities for graduate housing, Brammer said.

This effort began in 1983 when all rents on graduate housing were raised to ninety percent of commercial rent levels in order to build a capital fund, he said. The fund is intended to finance further improvements in graduate campus housing, he added.

Associate Director of Campus Housing Management Larry Maguire said that although the capital fund is built directly from rents paid by graduate students, a breakdown of Tang Hall's operating costs reveals that only 15 percent of the total operating budget goes into the capital fund.

The other 85 percent of the budget goes to pay for necessities, including housekeeping costs, utilities, physical plant, and insurance, he said.

The average rent for a Tang Hall apartment is $230.34 a month. In comparison, rents for graduate housing at various Harvard graduate schools average $2540 for nine months, or just over $282 a month, Maguire added.

The capital fund is currently being used to pay back the bond that was issued to renovate Green Hall last year, Brammer said. The bond should be repaid by fiscal 1988, he added.

Brammer was uncertain what uses the capital fund might be put to after the bond is paid off. He suggested that another building on campus might be renovated to provide more housing, or that the administration might buy some apartments to create more MIT-affiliated housing.

The GSC is trying to deal with this issue, LeClaire said. He mentioned a presentation made to the Visiting Committee on Student Affairs, and planned meetings with the Corporation Joint Advisory Committee and with President Paul E. Gray '54.

"We hope to find out just what the Institute's priorities are," LeClaire said.

"Everybody's keeping their eyes open, looking for something new, but nothing concrete has shown up as yet," Brammer said.