Housing Plan Deserves Student Input
The plans under consideration by an administration committee to renovate Senior House and East Campus into graduate dormitories raise several important questions about how the administration makes decisions that affect student life.
These plans would definitely affect the lives of members of the MIT community. While Senior House and East Campus may fare poorly compared to other dormitories during dormitory rush, this should not be taken as a sign that there is no demand for housing on the east side of campus. Most residents are currently satisfied with living in these dormitories, and many would find moving to west campus to be a substantial hassle. The value of the east's unique undergraduate culture should also be taken into account.
Moreover, many residents certainly feel an emotional attachment to their current living arrangements - their friends, neighbors, halls, entries, and even rooms. Dormitories are more than just puzzle pieces to be expediently fit into some master plan, and their residents are more than just playing cards to be dealt out to various campus buildings.
Administration plans regarding the future of Senior House and East Campus are also a concern to the alumni of the dormitories. Alumni have the right to be consulted about the future status of their former homes. Another consideration is the elimination of the Senior House Steer Roast, one of more popular alumni events at the Institute.
The administration must take care in developing a trusting relationship with students. Student opinion is a necessary ingredient to any discussion of residential issues and would foster a forum for open debate and discussion. Any type of closed decision-making process by the administration will only provoke anger and add to feelings of mistrust. Students in particular both want and deserve to participate in formulating decisions that bear heavily upon their own future.
In general the administration needs to begin by making proposals, learn from and guide the discussion that will inevitably follow, and then make informed and advised decisions - in that order. Any attempt to reverse this order, to leave out parts of its sequence, or to squeeze the time allotted for discussion to a minimum can only result in anger, protest, and hurt feelings.