The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 83.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Baker responds to allegations of sexism and racism at dorm (1)

(Editor's note: The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to Albert W. Morton Jr. '92.)

We are sorry for the way you were treated on your visit to Baker House ["Baker Urchin Policy is dangerous," April 24]. The three residents who escorted you out were overzealous in their efforts. All guests of residents are more than welcome in Baker.

Although all doors into Baker are locked except for the front door from 8 am to 8 pm, this does not prevent intruders from entering. Unlike yourself, many visitors do not introduce themselves to the front desk, nor do they all respond to the desk worker when asked, and this creates a problem.

In order to provide effective security for a house of our size, we have implemented a bell system code that can notify all Bakerites of an uninvited visitor. An urchin alert consists of two bells being rung on our system. The same system is used to announce house events and indicate when certain residents are needed.

Urchins vary from thieves stealing wallets, bikes and jewelry to other MIT students trying to wreak havoc on our home. In the past two years, incidents have included over $2000 in family jewelry being pilfered while a Bakerite went down the hallway to the bathroom, our house foosball table and lounge furniture being stolen, and fire alarms being pulled. Except for the jewelry, all of these incidents were the result of fellow MIT students.

Like the rest of the Confidential Guide to Baker House, the section on urchins is written tongue-in-cheek. Each fall, our judicial committee explicitly presents the urchin policy to residents of every floor. The judicial committee statement on urchins is as follows: "Urchins: uninvited visitors. If you see a person you don't recognize and who has no legitimate excuse for being in the house, contact a member of the house government. If an urchin is caught in the dorm, call Campus Police and escort him to the door. Wait for the CPs to arrive before you chase him out. Unless an urchin is violent, refrain from the use of force, you could be charged with assault."

The concept behind Baker's urchin alert is to provide a calm and reasonable solution. It is hoped that having a lot of Bakerites visible, on the premise of strength in numbers, will quickly solve the problem.

While it is true that there are very few blacks in Baker, it is not because they are not wanted. We don't get to choose who lives in Baker, they choose us and unfortunately very few black freshmen choose to live here. We are very cognizant of this shortfall and would be happy to meet with the Black Student Union or a similar group to solve the problem.

Although we appreciate your identifying these problems, we wish you had addressed the problem to Baker House directly. There are many conscientious residents of Baker who would be willing to listen to your concerns. The Baker House Executive Council is by no means apathetic to problems like this. If Baker seems overzealous in our pursuit of security, please understand that we have only learned from past experience and our own mistakes. MIT is full of creative minds, together maybe we can find a solution to ameliorate this problem.

Philip Welling '91->


Katherine J. Downes '91->

Vice President for->

Institute Relations->

Baker House->