New Options to Relieve CrowdingBy Jeremy Hylton
By this afternoon about 1,130 new students will have moved into temporary room assignments across campus. Over the next week, many students will find permanent room assignments through a housing lottery system that is intended to be more convenient and less hectic than in previous years, according to Andrew M. Eisenmann '75, assistant dean for residence and campus activities.
A number of factors should make housing more straightforward this year, Eisenmann said. A new, computerized housing lottery, a smaller freshman class, and two new buildings in the dormitory system will all help.
The undergraduate dormitory system should also be less crowded than last year, Eisenmann said. The dormitories will be filled about 140 or 150 people beyond capacity, according to current estimates. "In terms of the actual effect on people, it would be three to four times that number who are ending up in crowded rooms," Eisenmann said.
Two new buildings, an annex to McCormick Hall and the Alpha Chi Omega sorority house, will also make space for 45 or 50 more students, Eisenmann said.
Last year, a large entering class swelled the dormitory system far beyond capacity. More than 70 percent of the freshman class lived in crowded rooms, and lounges in MacGregor Hall were converted to student rooms.
Eisenmann expects to place between 400 to 600 students in crowded rooms this year. Extreme measures, like crowding MacGregor lounges or placing undergraduates in graduate student housing, are unlikely, he said.
To help relieve the Institute's perennial overcrowding problem, about 60 students will live at Huntington Hall near Northeastern University in Boston. MIT began leasing space in the dormitory from the Massachusetts College of Art last year.
"We have made offers to approximately 60 upperclass students and expect most of those to accept to live there, and we have hired three tutors to work there," said Margaret A. Jablonski, associate dean for residence and campus activities.
Along with a regular schedule of summer renovations, including painting the dormitories and fixing plumbing, Physical Plant gutted Building W2, which used to contain the chaplains' offices, and reconstructed the building as an annex to McCormick.
The new building, which is nearly complete, will house 26 women. "W2 looks very nice. Tom Phalen from Physical Plant did an excellent job on the project," said Christopher Nolan, manager of renovations and construction in the Office of Housing and Food Services.
The building will receive an occupancy permit on Friday, Nolan said.
Another 24 rooms were made available for women when the AXO house at 478 Commonwealth Ave. opened last Friday.
AXO is the second oldest sorority at MIT, and the second to own a house. In 1991, Alpha Phi, the oldest sorority, moved into a house across the street from the AXO house.
"I just took a tour of the new sorority in Kenmore Square and its just beautiful," Jablonski said.
The housing office also completed many less apparent renovations during the summer. More than 50 contractors were hired to do a variety of construction, including plumbing, electrical work, and masonry, according to Nolan.
"The dormitories are in excellent condition," Nolan said.
"The plumbing seems to be the worst problem we're having in housing and we're trying to get that done," Nolan said. "Every time we have to work on a shower valve, we have to shut down water for the whole building." Valves that allow water to be turned off in only part of a building have been added or existing valves have been repaired, he said.
New housing lottery
For students who do not join one of the independent living groups, their first introduction to the housing system - and perhaps to the Athena Computing Environment - will be the housing lottery, which begins on Sunday at 4 p.m.
For the first time ever, students must indicate their dormitory preferences using their Athena accounts and will receive the results via electronic mail. The intent of the new program was to "try to make the lottery more convenient and less hectic," Eisenmann said.
By using Athena to submit lottery choice and return results, the Dean's Office hopes to give students more time to enter their choices and to eliminate the long line of people outside La Sala de Puerto Rico on Tuesday, when the lottery results will be released.
Students will still be able to ask a person about their lottery results, but machine communication is preferred Eisenmann said. "We're hoping they don't [come to the R/O Center for housing results], because in addition to getting information about their permanent assignment there is information on their new house like advising, City Days, and in-house rooming assignments," he said.
Students can enter their lottery preferences between Sunday at 4 p.m. and Monday at 3 p.m. in any Athena cluster. They must first register for Athena accounts. "If they do feel they would like some assistance on Sunday evening and during the day Monday, they can talk to consultants in the Student Center cluster," Eisenmann said.
The move from temporary assignments to permanent assignments will also be delayed this year. The goal, again, was to make the process "a bit more convenient, and a bit more straightforward," Eisenmann said.
On Sept. 1, all students will move out of their temporary room assignments between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and move into permanent dormitory assignments between 2 and 5 p.m.
"It will allow students to move during the day and to have the house staffs available if there are any problems," Eisenmann said. He also noted that "all of the freshmen will be moving at the same time, and all the rooms will be available."