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Residents, Alums Protest Proposal

By Daniel C. Stevenson
News Editor

Current residents and alumni of Senior House and East Campus are alarmed and troubled about the administration's discussions to renovate the two dormitories for graduate housing.

The Undergraduate Association president has also expressed concern.

Since early September, the Strategic Housing Planning Committee has been gathering information to develop a plan to move undergraduates out of east campus dormitories into current graduate and new undergraduate dormitories on west campus. The committee, chaired by Robert M. Randolph, senior associate dean for undergraduate education and student affairs, was formed at the request of UESA Dean Arthur C. Smith.

According to a source who spoke with a committee member, the committee's plans call for renovating Senior House and East Campus as graduate dormitories within three to five years.

Randolph has said that he cannot guarantee that undergraduates would be living in Senior House next fall.

The idea of moving undergraduates to west campus "is completely ridiculous," said East Campus resident Leah C. Schechter '96. The east campus area is important because of the strong undergraduate tradition, she said.

"If you try to shove everybody into housing in west campus and you take away this tradition, you will not only be making a lot of people who live here very unhappy, but also will be hurting the grand tradition that has been carried on for years," Schechter said.

If such a plan is enacted, the Institute will be "a very grim and unpleasant place," Schechter said.

Senior House "is one place where you can go where they leave you alone," said Brian C. Rider '95, one of the house chairs at Senior House. "To some people, that is very important."

"I imagine there would be protesting" about the committee's work and Randolph's statement about next fall, Rider said.

"Everyone I've talked to thinks it's the stupidest idea they've ever heard of," said East Campus resident Katherine M. Klar '97. "If they wanted to live on west campus, they would have chosen to live there."

"I think they should consult with students," Klar said. Residents are planning on writing petitions to the administration about the issue, she said.

UAP unhappy'

"As UA president, I'm very unhappy that the students in Senior House and East Campus weren't consulted in this decision at all," said Undergraduate Association President Vijay P. Sankaran '95.

"Since the situation directly affects them it's very important to get their input into the plan," Sankaran said.

"I would hope that the students from the east side of campus were involved from the initial stages" of the discussion, Sankaran said. "It seems that people were kept in the dark about this."

Sankaran said he "had been given inklings that moving people around and renovating Senior House was a possibility." However, these were long-term plans over the next 10 to 20 years, not on the short time scale indicated by the planning committee's work, he said.

The planning committee's work will be discussed at Wednesday night's UA Council meeting, Sankaran said.

The UA will discuss both the administration's way of handling residential restructuring and also the merits of the plan, Sankaran said.

"I'd like to see the full plan" of the committee, Sankaran said. "The public should have access to the full plan."

Russell S. Light '98, UAC floor leader, said he expected the council "to be quite unhappy with the non-public nature" of the committee's work.

Alumni concerned

The possibility of restructuring the east campus dormitories also concerns alumni. "In immediate reaction, I don't like the idea, but I'm willing to look at the committee's reasons and desires behind the plan to see what they're trying to do," said Michael J. Bauer '92, a Senior House alumnus.

"I suspect I still won't like it at that point, but I'm willing to see if they want to put one or both feet in their mouth," Bauer added.

"I believe that the long history that both buildings have had as undergraduate dorms" should be taken into consideration when evaluating the plans, said Jack Leifer '87, a former East Campus resident and class secretary for the class of 1987.

"Please consider the feelings and reactions of alumni when deciding the future of East Campus and Senior House," Leifer said. Leifer made his comments in an open letter to Randolph.

"For a lot of alumni, one of the strongest links to campus is their dorm," said Tariq M. Shaukat '94, former president of East Campus. "The great thing about East Campus and Senior House was the fact that they have their own individual personality which is different" from west campus, Shaukat said.

Jeremy Hylton contributed to the reporting of this story.