New rules for grad housing may result in many empty rooms
By Lakshmana Rao
There has been an unprecedented increase in the number of vacant spots for on-campus graduate student housing this year. According to Linda L. Patton, manager of housing services, about 50 spaces in Ashdown House are currently unoccupied. There were only 15 vacant spaces at the same time last year.
While about 80 students turned up for the Ashdown lottery in previous years, only six people applied for spaces this fall, Patton said. She attributed this to "more students arriving very early and finding suitable housing off-campus."
Olof C. Hellman G, chairman of housing and community affairs for the Graduate Student Council, disagreed with Patton's assessment. He said the housing office was eager to fill the spaces in the new graduate dormitory at 143 Albany St., and in the process created many vacancies at Ashdown.
Almost all of the spots in Albany St. are now filled by single graduate students, despite the fact that rents there are gen-
erally higher than those in other dormitories.
Hellman criticized the entire graduate housing process. "No clear priorities are set forth in implementing even the stated policies, and the policies are conveniently changed to achieve different goals at the time of implementation," he said.
Under a new housing policy announced last spring, graduate students are admitted into on-campus housing by lottery. Those who win the lottery are offered a one-year contract to live in Institute housing. They must then survive a second lottery to get a contract to remain in the graduate residences.
All students who applied for housing in Ashdown before Sep. 15 were given untenured spots there, but students who applied after that date were given tenured spots, according to Ashdown Housemaster Vernon M. Ingram, a professor of biology.
"This differential tenuring of students hampers the participation of new graduate students in the community life of Ashdown," Ingram said.
The implementation of the new housing policy has virtually eliminated the participatory role of student bodies in apartment complexes like Tang Hall, said Gautam Nayar G, president of the Tang Hall Residents' Association.
"With more than 200 students moving out each year, it is difficult to find any student willing to join the governing body of Tang Hall," he said.
Nayar felt that "the housing office makes no clear commitment regarding maintaining a continuing stream of students, either by increasing the number of tenured spots or by introducing graduate residents [like those in undergraduate dormitories]."