Large frosh class arrives
By Andrea Lamberti
A larger-than-expected freshman class and one less fraternity on campus will result in at least 200 crowded dormitory rooms this year, according to the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs.
"We anticipate crowding near to maximum" capacity, Staff Associate for Residence and Campus Activities John E. Keefe said.
Director of Admissions Michael C. Behnke said about 1080 or 1090 freshmen were expected to arrive at MIT this week, but the office of admissions will not "have a final count until mid-September."
The goal for the class size was 1050 students, Behnke said. "We had no instruction or desire to go beyond 1050."
The situation has been exacerbated by the elimination of one housed fraternity this year. The dormitory system absorbed the 55 members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity when the national organization reorganized the MIT chapter last year. No MIT students are living in the house this year.
Only about 30 of the roughly 80 transfer students will be guaranteed housing because of the anticipated overcrowding, Keefe said. Usually MIT can house about one half of transfer students.
Keefe said his best estimate for the number of crowded rooms this year is roughly 200. The dormitory system's capacity for crowds is about 185, he added. Every dormitory will experience some crowding, with the possible exception of Random Hall. In MacGregor House, suite lounges will be converted into double rooms to accommodate over 40 people.
The Dean's Office allocates crowds by dividing them among the houses that can be crowded, according to James R. Tewhey, associate dean for student affairs.
"This isn't a situation where people will be out in the street; everyone's going to have a place to sleep," Tewhey said. "It just is not going to be comfortable housing."
Tewhey has established best- and worst-case scenarios. Tewhey said that the worst case would be about 260 crowds, while the best case would be about 140 crowds. His best estimate was 180. If the number goes beyond 200, however, the situation will be "untenable," he said.
Although the dormitory system can handle the large numbers, the crowds will strain facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and dining halls, Keefe said.
The situation "will have an impact on the houses . . . and [on] upperclassmen," Tewhey said, as well as on the quality of life in the houses.
ILG rush goal increased
The Dean's Office hopes that independent living groups will have a good rush to help alleviate dormitory overcrowding. The independent living groups' goal for rush this year is 400 new students, according to Neal H. Dorow, advisor to fraternities and ILGs. The typical ILG goal is approximately 380.
Tewhey met with ILG rush chairs and told them that the freshman class was larger than in the past.
Keefe said 400 new ILG students would be a best-case scenario. He said the best estimate would be 380, while the worst-case scenario would be about 340.
FAF delays lead to poor
class size estimates
For the past two years, the class size has been about 1050, Behnke said, and the goal for class size has not changed since it was raised from 1000 to 1050 two years ago. The number of students was increased to raise additional tuition revenues, Behnke said.
The admissions office has cited two reasons for the large class size. Last year, aiming at a class size of 1050, MIT admitted 2018 students but only 1040 actually enrolled. Based on that low yield, 2051 students were accepted this year to achieve a class size of about 1050.
Secondly, a larger percentage of students with financial aid extensions decided to enroll this year.
MIT granted about 100 extensions -- more than usual -- beyond the May 1 deadline due to financial aid processing problems. The processing of Financial Aid Forms broke down because the federal government was "late in issuing its guidelines," Behnke said. This contributed to the computers crashing at the College Scholarship Service by overloading the system, and caused delays nationwide, he explained.
When the admissions officers estimated the size of the class after they granted the extensions, they expected that they "were not going to fill the class . . . based on the past experience with extensions," Behnke said. So they admitted 30 students from the waiting list, he said.
But it "became very clear in mid-July" that the class would be large, because 71 percent of the students with extensions decided to enroll, compared with 41 percent last year, Behnke said. The waiting list yield also increased, from 60 percent last year to 70 percent this year, he added.
Highest level of
crowding since 1985
In 1985, the ODSA had to crowd 195 rooms to accommodate all students who applied for Institute housing. One week later, President Paul E. Gray '54 said he would ask the Academic Council to decrease the class size in the following year to eliminate crowding problems.
The highest number of crowds in MIT's history, 220 rooms, occurred in 1980, the year before 500 Memorial Drive opened. That year, seven freshmen lived in television lounges in the basement of Ashdown House.