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Similar Housing Shift Proposal Shot Down Fourteen Years Ago

By Hyun Soo Kim
News Editor

The Strategic Housing Planning Committee's discussion concerning the renovation of east campus dormitories for graduate student use is not a new idea. In March 1980, the administration announced a plan to switch Senior House and East Campus residents with Ashdown House residents ["Administration to Consider Housing Shift," March 18, 1980].

Suggested by the then-Dean of the Graduate School Kenneth R. Wadleigh '43 in response to a housing shortage for graduate students, this 1980 plan included elements similar to the current plan being considered by the committee.

Undergraduates in Senior House and East Campus would move into Ashdown and the soon-to-be-completed Next House. Walker Memorial would also be renovated as a graduate student center. Wadleigh said that the idea of having an east campus graduate student center "has been on the docket since 1957."

The 1980 administration aired the proposal to the MIT community before making any decisions. The Corporation was to have the final say because of the substantial costs of the renovation.

However, the Undergraduate Association president at the time complained that he and the Dormitory Council president had not been consulted before the announcement of the proposal. Residents of Senior House and East Campus strongly opposed the proposal.

In May 15, 1980, the administration withdrew the proposal, calling it a "pre-proposal." Preservation of house identities and lifestyles and the need for further study were the main reasons cited by the administration.

The housing administrators also said that they needed to dispel the considerable animosity and mistrust between the administration and students that the proposal raised.