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Housing Policy Worth Hassles

I am writing in response to the flood of negative articles and letters dealing with MIT's housing policy in recent issues of The Tech. With the long waits and the administrative hassles that have been faced this week, the complaints are understandable. However, the benefits of this housing policy are worth the headaches of these short-lived problems.

At first glance, one might look at MIT's method of finding homes for its new students and wonder why such a reputable school would choose to go through chaos every year when there are much simpler methods of dealing with the issue. Why not follow the example of other schools and assign each student a room before he arrives? This would ease the pressure on the freshmen as well as the administration. However, one must also ponder why one of the top schools in the world would care so much about its students as to be willing to go through this ordeal so that they can live in the place of their choice with people they can relate to and a room that meets their needs. I have never heard of another school's housing policy that just happened to assign 90% of the freshmen to their first choice dorm!

Each dorm and independent living group at MIT has a distinctive personality as a result of students who have similar interests and personalities choosing to live together. The flavor of each dorm cannot be determined from a picture in a brochure or a flowery-worded description in a book. The tours and Residence and Orientation Week activities are necessary to capture an idea of what living in a certain dorm or ILG would really be like. Without the freedom to choose the place he will live, a student may easily find himself in a situation which is not compatible with adjusting to being away from home, finding inner contentment, or even academic success.

Last year, I went through the ordeal of moving from temporary room to temporary room, waiting in long lines, living out of suitcase for a week, and the general stress of R/O Week. However, after a not-so-ideal week, I was assigned to a dorm that I love with people much like myself. I am grateful for the concern MIT shows for the welfare of its students and for the freedom the current system allows us. I believe that one week of lines, headaches, and chaos is worth four years of happiness, success, and fun.

Lisa M. Sopata `96