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Two Dorm Dining Halls to Stay Open

By Hyun Soo Kim
Associate News Editor

MIT will close the dining halls at McCormick Hall and MacGregor House and move to a voluntary meal plan system in the final plan approved by Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56 last Friday.

Starting next fall, the remaining two dormitory dining halls at Baker House and Next House will be open for dinner Monday through Friday. Meals will be a la carte. Currently, Baker House has commons-style meals that cost approximately $7.50.

Closing two of the dining halls will help reduce losses, according toLawrence E. Maguire, Director of Housing and Food Services. The four dining halls currently lose up to $500,000 per year.

"With two dining halls open, I expect to lose money. We will have a totally voluntary plan, and we lost money with a mandatory plan. With one dining hall open, we might have broken even," Maguire said. "It's risky with one [dining hall open], and doubly risky with two. We'll see how the year goes."

Early in the term, the Office of Housing and Food Services offered a financially feasible plan which would have required residents in dormitories with dining halls to purchase a $1,150-per-year meal plan good for five commons-style meals a week.

This plan was rejected after intense protest by students, who said they would prefer closing the dining halls to such a plan. In response, the housing office decided to rescind mandatory meal plans and close all the dining halls except Baker.

The final plan incorporates requests to keep both the Baker and Next dining halls open. These two dormitories were chosen to retain their dining halls because they have inadequate kitchen facilities for students and because of their locations, Maguire said. The Next House convenience store and snack bar will remain open seven days a week.

In a memorandum to the Student Customer Council, Maguire welcomed further input from students. "Services, hours and concepts will be designed to best meet student customer needs. Student customer input, using the Student Customer Council, surveys, house government, house food committees and the help of faculty residents will insure that this gets done," he wrote.

Students pleased with decision

Residents of all four dormitories generally approve of the final plan.

"I think it's great that the administration listened to the students. It works out well for MacGregor students because they can go to Next House," said Wayne R. Dempsey '94, a MacGregor resident.

"If the plan pulls more people into the dining hall, it would be a good thing. There's a reasonable number of Bakerites who don't want to pay $7.50 for a meal, so they don't eat at Baker, but now they will," said Ezra G. Erb '94, a Baker resident.

"I'm really happy about [the final plan] because I work at the [Next House] snack bar. It's really convenient to work there. As far as the food itself being available at Next House, it doesn't matter to me because I am an athlete and I have practice from 5 to 7 [p.m.], but it just means I could keep my job and other people will be happy," said Maryann Smela '96, a resident of Next House.

McCormick and MacGregor residents also approve of the plan. Kristine Yoder '93 said, "I think they picked good dorms to keep open. In McCormick, there are kitchens in every floor. ... It's been very convenient for us, but I don't think it will be a problem for us to go to the Student Center or use the kitchen facilities. I don't think we are being jilted because our dining hall is closing."

Future dining hall changes

Proposals on what to do with the dining hall space in McCormick and MacGregor are being discussed.

"Some proposals have been to turn the area into a snack bar, a recreational area, and a limited dining hall that opens later. My own hope is that we could come up with an option that serves the purpose that the dining hall currently serves. I will just wait and see what the residents want," said McCormick Housemaster Charles Stewart III.

"I think it's a real tragedy" that the dining hall will close, Stewart added. "My wife and I eat there, and one of the things that hit us was how many people eat there and sit around and socialize. It's a social center of McCormick on a daily basis. One of the reasons why the Institute should have subsidized the dining halls is because it serves a function aside from shoveling food to students. McCormick will be a less pleasant place to live next year."