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Housing Report Suggests Revisions, Repairs

By Don Lacey
Staff Reporter

The Undergraduate Association's Committee on Housing and Residence and Orientation Week has released its final report on the state of student housing at MIT.

The report contains the results of a poll of 495 students and interviews with 70 students on housing and R/O Week, and makes several major recommendations aimed at improving MIT's housing situation. The poll was conducted during Independent Activities Period and spring 1994.

The committee made several points in the document, including the necessary renovations of some dormitories, the recommendation to discontinue Huntington Hall as a housing option, the approval of R/O Week taking place before the fall term, and the need to revise Interfraternity Council badmouthing rules.

The report should be significant to the MIT community due to the large size of the survey sample, said Committee Chairman John S. Hollywood '95. While participation in the survey was voluntary, respondents' "biases were small enough to draw general conclusions," he said.

Students satisfied with housing

According to the survey, the average rank students gave for "overall satisfaction" with MIT housing was 8.3, on a scale from 0 to 10. The average rating for "quality of social life" was 7.6, and the average rank for "dormitory condition" was 7.1.

However, some were bothered by alcohol and drug use in their living groups; 17.9 percent of the respondents in dormitories rated their comfort with alcohol/drug use at their dormitory at 5 or below.

Though the committee reports that "generally we found drug and alcohol use to be low and declining at MIT, and usually an individual concern," it recommended that each dormitory establish procedures for handling these problems.

Because a few students said they felt abused or harassed by members in their living group, the report suggested the formation of the Undergraduate Advisory Service to help handle student complaints.

Many respondents noted a need for repairs in Random Hall, Baker House, and Senior House, and students in Huntington Hall complained that they felt isolated and removed from campus life.

In response to these issues, the committee recommended that MIT keep future class sizes constant and eventually build a new dormitory to avoid future overcrowding and that Baker, Random, and Senior House be renovated. The report also suggested that MIT either discontinue its lease of sections of Huntington Hall or provide a scheduled shuttle to the dormitory, especially in the morning.

Also, the placement and durability of the card readers which have been installed in most of MIT's dormitories concerned many respondents.

Students approve of R/O

Hollywood said that the recommendation that the committee felt most strongly about was that the time of R/O and rush not be changed from the beginning of freshman year - over 85 percent of students surveyed approve of the current system.

This conflicts with a proposal made several years ago by the Freshman Housing Committee to move rush to IAP, he said.

Another proposal made regarding R/O was to revise the current IFC badmouthing rules. Many want to see more "objective information" about R/O, and 50.7 percent want the rule repealed, though this number might be lower due to bias, the report said.

The committee recommended a compromise where living group members could truthfully answer questions from freshmen, but would not be allowed to initiate negative comments about other living groups.