90 Spaces to Be Available in Huntington Hall this FallBy Eva Moy
In an effort to relieve undergraduate dormitory crowding, MIT expects to sign a one-year lease for part of a dormitory at 620 Huntington Avenue in Boston within the next week or two, according to Arthur C. Smith, Dean for Undergraduate Housing and Student affairs. The Institute also expects to need to rent the dormitory for a second year, Smith said.
The dormitory, called Huntington Hall by MIT, has 150 rooms distributed over five floors; MIT is renting 90 of these rooms. The other two floors will house students from the Massachusetts College of Art.
Huntington Hall is currently known as Baker Hall, but MIT changed the name to avoid confusion with another MIT dormitory, Baker House, according to Smith.
MIT will be renting these rooms from MCA, which in turn is renting the entire building from the Wentworth Institute of Technology with the intention of purchasing it in two years, according to Smith. MCA hopes that with the revenue from renting to MIT, it will be able to buy, and then renovate, the dormitory.
With rent set at $750 per term, MIT will not break even on this deal. In fact, the Institute will lose "a reasonably significant amount," said Andrew M. Eisenmann, assistant dean for Residence and Campus Activities. However, MIT is willing to absorb this loss to relieve the undergraduate housing crunch.
In addition to the low rent to attract MIT students, "Students who live in the dorm for one year are guaranteed return housing after that, as long as they are eligible for undergraduate housing," Smith said in the memorandum. "Students who live there for two years will be guaranteed one of their top two choices for MIT housing, as long as they are eligible for undergraduate housing."
As soon as a contract is negotiated between Director of Special Services Steven D. Immerman and MCA, Senior Vice President William R. Dickson is expected approve it in time for the fall term.
Students must respond by July 28 to an information mailing sent last Friday to reserve a room at Huntington Hall. The housing office will wait until these returns before making further decisions, according to Eisenmann.
Distance may be an issue
The main attraction for students will be the low rent, Eisenmann said. Rooms cost $750 per term as singles, about one-half of the cost of other dormitory rooms. If two students opt to live in a room as a double, each student would pay only $375 per term.
Smith is presenting the dorm's location as another incentive. "While you will live farther away from the Institute, you will be closer to students from other schools and be able to meet new people," according to the memorandum he signed. "It's an opportunity to have the independence of living off the main campus and being in the city, while still having the convenience of meal plans, security, and a college environment."
Nevertheless, the administration is anticipating that the distance from campus might discourage some students from choosing Huntington Hall, and the Institute will sell monthly combination bus and subway T-Passes at half price -- approximately $24 per month -- to residents, according to Smith. In addition, a permanent A Safe Ride stop will be added at the dormitory.
Whether students can park at Huntington Hall has yet to be determined. While there is a small parking lot behind the dormitory, MCA students are not allowed to park there, said Diana Glennon, secretary of housing at MCA. There is no security in the parking lot, which is only surrounded by a wire fence, and MCA doesn't "want to have to deal with a lot of students' cars on campus," she added.
Eisenmann said there may be limited parking available. There is also some on-street parking, Smith added.
Day-to-day living arrangements
The rooms at Huntington Hall, measuring 9x12 feet, are intended as doubles, but will serve as large singles for MIT students. There are 30 rooms per floor on each of the five floors.
Included are a bed, desk, chair, and closet. The furnishings are "adequate," but "the standard is certainly no higher than MIT," Smith said.
There is one pay phone per floor, and there are no personal phones in the rooms. The communications office is currently looking into the costs of installing phones in individual rooms, as well as the possibility of bringing Athena to the dormitory, according to Smith.
There is currently no kitchen at Huntington Hall, although a small facility may be added later. Students may also opt to eat at the MCA dining hall, at $1895 per year for 19 meals per week.
Huntington Hall is officially in Roxbury. Nearby are Wentworth Institute of Technology, Massachusetts College of Art, Northeastern University, Harvard Medical School, Simmons College, and Emmanuel College.
With so many students living in the area, the crime rates are not out of the ordinary, according to a Roxbury Police Officer. There haven't been any problems of students being harassed, but, "like any other resident you have your problems" with crime, she said.
There is a 24-hour security guard and security cameras at the dormitory, she added. These security measures will continue to be provided by MCA, according to Eisenmann.
However behind the dormitory is also the Mission Hill Projects, according to Glennon. "We advise students not to go back there," she said, although she added that there have not been any serious problems recently.
The most frequent crimes involve motor vehicles and stereos stolen from them, according to the police officer.
Dorm to relieve overcrowding
"We knew for a long time we were going to have trouble housing everybody," Smith said. After admitting record numbers of students in recent years, the Institute decided to both reduce the number of admissions as well as look for other housing alternatives.
Led by Immerman, a group of MIT administrators started looking for a new dormitory site last spring. The Huntington Avenue site was seriously considered by June.
Most of the other potential dormitory sites were either in worse physical condition or could not have contracts negotiated in time for the fall term, Smith said. The Institute also looked at hotels as an option, he added.
For the 1992-1993 academic year, there were about 226 undergraduates in crowded dormitory rooms, Smith said. Twenty undergraduates were also housed in Westgate. This year's goal is 165 crowds. But, without including rooms in Huntington Hall, there are more unassigned people than beds available, he added.
Currently, there are not enough unassigned undergraduates, such as transfer students and students who have taken time off, to fill the rooms available at Huntington Hall, according to Smith.
Thus, "If the incentives we have provided do not result in a large enough change in occupancy, we may have to require moves by some students who would normally be assigned to other dormitories. We do not expect that this will happen and hope that it will not, but if it does, we will notify you of any change of your fall term assignment immediately," according to the memorandum.
Some alternatives may be to house freshmen or graduate students in the new dorm, if they choose to live there.
There is currently a committee studying how to achieve a more stable admission and dormitory situation, Smith said. He added that MIT is close to reaching a decision to build another dormitory within the next few years.