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Grad housing committee develops first-year plan

The Graduate Student Council's Housing and Community Affairs Committee has been meeting weekly this month to determine the most equitable distribution of on-campus graduate student housing until MIT has enough on-campus housing for all graduate students who request it. Our consensus will be discussed and voted on at the full Graduate Student Council meeting tonight.

The framework of our discussions consisted of housing statistics, the needs of each on-campus house, and lessons from the tenured/untenured policy implemented a few years ago. The stated goal of our discussions was to find the best policy that provides quality housing for first-year graduate students.

Some of the pertinent housing statistics that guided our discussions are given here. As of this September, there are a total of 5229 graduate students including 1348 first-year graduate students. There were 586 applicants for single student housing and 147 applicants for married student housing. A total of 22.9 percent of the first year class was assigned housing out of the 54.4 percent that applied for housing. On the HCA housing survey 69.9 percent of the respondents indicated that they would have liked to live on-campus during their first year and 82.4 percent felt that first-year students should have priority for on-campus housing. About one third of the graduate students, 1552 people, responded to the survey which was distributed last spring on registration day. When the new graduate dormitory at 143 Albany St. opens there will be a total of 1466 spaces, 423 apartments for married students and 1043 spaces for single students.

Our plan allows flexibility in implementation in order to accommodate the individual needs of each house. The plan would make the Albany St. dorm a first-year graduate student building with about five continuing graduate students to organize activities. Tang Hall, Ashdown House, and Green Hall would provide 45 percent of their spaces to first-year students. Eastgate and Westgate would provide 50 percent of their spaces to first-year students. Each building would be able to submit a plan to the Housing Office proposing the allocation of spaces such that these quotas are met. If a house did not provide an acceptable plan, the default policy would be to give one-year nonrenewable leases to first-year students. When fully implemented, the plan would house about 58 percent of the first-year students in 785 spaces. The 50/50 plan proposed by the Housing Office would house about 54 percent of the first-year students in 733 spaces. Our plan would have two lotteries. One lottery would be for first-year students providing one-year nonrenewable leases, and the second lottery would be for continuing students providing renewable leases. Each lottery would be for half the spaces of every building.

A broad range of ideas was discussed at our meetings reflecting radically different opinions. To some people a sense of community is of utmost importance while to others the only important issue is guaranteeing a space to entering graduate students. The majority consider having Albany St. as a first-year graduate building to be excellent for first-year and continuing students alike. A few consider it unfortunate that these desirable apartments will not be accessible to continuing students and believe it is useful to entering students to mingle with continuing ones. There are those who want no changes whatsoever in the existing houses, and others who believe that the current policy of tenure is inherently unfair to all graduate students and should be eliminated.

The extremes of the plans proposed are the "Albany St." plan and the "no tenure plan." The "Albany St." plan would make no changes to the existing houses and fill Albany St. with all first-year students given one-year nonrenewable leases. The "no tenure" plan would guarantee housing to all first-year students who request it and have an annual lottery for remaining spaces. We adopted a modified version of the plan proposed by Mark Engle ["First-year students deserve priority in housing," Oct. 17].

Our plan consists of serious compromises by all parties involved in the discussions. Of the 19 people present at the end of the meeting, 12 supported the proposal. Considering the intensity of convictions and the extreme differences of opinion, reaching a consensus is a remarkable achievement.

Julia Vail G->

Chair,->

GSC Housing and Community->

Affairs Committee->