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Give new graduate students temporary space

We, the presidents of Ashdown House, Green Hall, and Tang Hall, are opposed to the housing plan proposed by the Housing Office. Under the proposed plan there would be a 75 percent yearly turnover rate (50 percent is always untenured, 50 percent of the remainder is natural turnover) in all the houses. This would be a serious detriment to the quality of life in the dorms. House governments depend on the interest of volunteers, and long-term house projects demand a continuity of that interest. Furthermore, mixing untenured and tenured students in the same building creates a tense, two-class system.

Our alternative proposal, which we have submitted to the Graduate Student Council, the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs, and the Housing Office, would meet most of the housing demand of incoming students, but would not turn the dorms into an impersonal apartment building. Under this proposal, current policies would remain in place in existing dorms. This already includes preferential reservation of about 75 percent of the available spaces for new students. However, all spaces in the new Albany Street building would be reserved for new graduate students who need a place to stay while apartment hunting. Graduate residents hired by the ODSA would help to promote a positive community spirit by organizing social events and helping untenured students to find housing for the following year, either off-campus or in one of the older dorms. In this way, the organizational structure of the Albany Street dorm would be specifically designed to accommodate the needs of first year students and the problems associated with a high turnover building.

Under our plan all incoming graduate students could receive one of the following: a renewable space on campus (310 beds), a renewable space off campus in buildings owned by MIT (30 spaces), a nine-month non-renewable space on campus (190 beds), or a one-month on-campus space for apartment hunting (570 spaces). Based on the housing demand of the incoming class of 1989, approximately 72 percent of all incoming students who apply for on-campus housing would get one of the first three options.

The allocation of a scarce resource, such as graduate student housing, is always a source of conflict. Our plan provides almost the same number of spaces as the Housing Office plan without destroying the existing quality of life in graduate houses. In addition, the full benefits of this plan could be achieved immediately while the Housing Office plan would be phased in over several years as spaces become available. Any solution which includes untenured housing should only be considered as a last resort. Our solution is intended to be a temporary one, designed as a compromise to alleviate immediate housing demands. Ultimately, the underlying problem of creating more graduate housing must be addressed.

Arnout Eikeboom G->

Janet Pan G->

Ann Westerheim G->