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Allow freshmen to choose residence

It's inevitable: All MIT freshmen will eventually live in Institute housing.

At first they may be allowed to choose a dormitory of their preference, but eventually they will be assigned to a dormitory, to insure suitable homogenizing of the class. And then, perhaps in 10 or so years, all the freshmen will be assigned to one or two freshmen dorms. After all, that's what Harvard does with its lovely, tradition-steeped freshman Quad.

Now, why is it inevitable?

Because it is on the administrative agenda, and has been for the last four or five years. I remember two years ago when the infamous Freshman Housing Committee report was first released. There were forums and meetings and student responses, just like now. And of course, the response was overwhelmingly negative, just like now. But here we are now with a new administration and many new students, but the issue remains, and the official solution of choice remains constructing one or two new dorms.

Exactly what problem is the administration trying to solve?

In essence, the problem is the Institute feels it has lost control of the student-life agenda. Manifestations of the control loss include: (1) the biased ratio of living options for men and women; (2) the lack of population diversity within independent living groups, dorm floors and suites; and (3) the lack of Institute-organized, effective, non-academic support programs for freshmen.

The Institute plans to solve this problem in one fell swoop by putting all freshmen in dormitories where they can be suitably diversified and supported by wonderful, yet-to-be-conceived Institute programs. As a fringe benefit, the inequity of the 28 all-male living groups, compared to three all-female groups, would be addressed by the resultant demise of about half of MIT's all-male fraternities.

I must confess that in some ways the plan seems to have merits, even to me, a fraternity alumnus. The ratio of male to female living options is unfair, and perhaps MIT students don't enjoy maximal exposure to the population diversity the Institute now has to offer. Yet, my stomach still turns over at the idea of MIT taking control of freshmen life.

Why?

Because anyone who has been at MIT knows that if the administration breaks down the current infrastructure of student life, they aren't going to have a clue how to put it back together. That "detail" will fall upon the students' shoulders.

Tony Gerber '90->