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Freshmen Need Permanent Housing Now

Column by Arif Husain

While most freshmen have spent the last few days settling into their new dorms, a large, overlooked handful of about sixty students, myself included, have been involuntarily thrown into a game of bureaucratic ping pong leaving us lost in the Residence and Orientation Week shuffle. Still living out of our suitcases in crowded temps, we continue to be denied a place to settle down and call home.

Upon arriving at MIT, I never expected to be given luxury accommodations. I did, however, expect to be assigned to a house with adequate space and facilities to provide me with a comfortable home base from which I could begin my college life. This has been far from the case.

As I waited in line, anxiously, Tuesday evening, my main concern lay in where I was going to live. Surprisingly, instead of feeling elation or acceptance in regards to my assignment, I felt nothing, since I was given the answer, "I am sorry, but I don't have a card for you. Try back tomorrow. Next." Although disappointed, I reassured myself that it would all be settled the following day and I went on with my life.

As the next evening approached, I again spent thirty odd nervous minutes awaiting my assignment, assured that regardless of where, at least I could settle in. There again I received a slap in the face. but this time it was far more difficult to recover. We were told that the housing committee was facing a "situation" and that we could try back the next day to see if they might be able to squeeze us in. If not, some of us would have to wait until Sept. 8 to see if any upperclassmen rooms become available. In the latter case, we would have to haul luggage, move in, unpack, register, buy books, and prepare for the first day of classes at the new school, all in one day. By all reasonable estimates, this is a bit too much to ask.

Somehow in my idealistic vision, I never expected a top university with over a hundred years of dealing with students to address crowding as something new. Then it occurred to me that the root of the problem lies precisely in this fact. Because it is a top university, the condition of its housing is completely independent of its success as an institution. Regardless of how lousy its dorms are, or how severely it inconveniences its students, it will continue to receive a yearly avalanche of applicants and will consequently maintain its reputation and funding.

My intent is not to draw sympathy from the students, or stir hostility with the administration. I simply felt a need to expose this situation with hopes that it can be resolved in a timely manner. In the future, I pray that no such "situations" arise, but for now, on behalf of myself and the fifty or more other freshmen who still remain in limbo, I would like to tell whomever it may concern that we want suitable, permanent housing, and we want it now.