EC, Senior House Residents Meet to Discuss HousingBy Daniel C. Stevenson
Residents of Senior House and East Campus met Wednesday evening to discuss their concerns about administration proposals to renovate the two dormitories for graduate housing.
Following the meeting, nine students formed a student committee to represent residents' concerns to the Strategic Housing Planning Committee, chaired by Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Robert M. Randolph.
The administration committee was directed by Dean for UESA Arthur C. Smith to "look very seriously at the idea of having all undergraduates live on west campus," Smith said.
Renovating Senior House to eventually house graduate students is among the restructuring options being considered by the committee, Randolph said. Displaced undergraduates from Senior House would possibly be housed at Ashdown House, currently a graduate dormitory, he said.
Randolph said on Monday that he "can't guarantee" that undergraduates would be living in Senior House next fall.
Along with the meeting of Senior House and East Campus residents, students presented their concerns at Wednesday's Undergraduate Associate Council meeting. UA President Vijay P. Sankaran '95 announced that Smith and the committee members would likely hold an open forum sometime next week to respond to student concerns.
The UA Committee on Student Life will also hold an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the situation, said John S. Hollywood '96, chair of the committee. The meeting will be in the Room 400 of the Student Center (W20-400) at 7 p.m.
No members of the planning committee or the senior administration were present at either meeting.
Students at the meetings called for representation on the planning committee and involvement in the decision-making process. Jeremy H. Brown '94, a Senior House alumnus, asked Sankaran to convey to the committee "that they might like to include a number of students."
Brown cited renovations of Senior House several years ago that were announced after the plans were already "set in concrete." The poor quality of those renovations made him "leery of renovation," especially without student input.
When asked by Sankaran, Senior House residents present at the UAC meeting enthusiastically agreed that they would be willing to help plan the renovations.
East Campus President Parag Gupta '96 said Randolph had told him the committee has not "made any recommendations and they will come to the students before they finalize anything."
Hollywood said he had "made it clear to Randolph that the committee would be receiving student input."
In an electronic mail message read by Dhaya Lakshminarayanan '96, East Campus vice president, Smith said that "there is a role for students and for the faculty committee on student affairs in helping to shape and implement policy."
Students cannot afford to wait for a "fairly finished plan" and then add their input, said Abbe J. Cohen '96. Rather, students "need to get involved in the planning process and do it in an organized way," Cohen said.
The students "need explicit statements of how they're going to be involved," said Ian S. Eslick G, a former resident of East Campus.
"We have to have a positive program, an argument for why we ought to stay here" to present to the committee, said Robert J. Pensalfini G, a graduate resident tutor at East Campus.
Residents of both dormitories expressed strong concern over the cultural implications of residential restructuring. "Everyone has a strong sense of attachment of community to our dorm," said Jacob M. Harris '97, Senior House secretary.
Amy M. Smith '98 said she had recently requested a transfer to Senior House "because of the sense of community."
"The traditions of East Campus and Senior House are very important to residents," said Theresa V. Iuzzolino G, a former East Campus resident.
Housing report passed
Following the housing discussion at the UAC meeting, a bill was passed adopting the report of the 1993-94 UA Committee on Housing and Residence and Orientation Week. Hollywood, the chair of the committee, presented the motion.
The motion recognized the value of the report for providing an overview of housing and R/O based on student opinion. The motion also called for providing the report and its summary through electronic means to the MIT community.
The final item of the motion originally recommended that all future reports and evaluations concerning student life by the administration "be based upon student opinion primarily."
After discussion about the appropriateness of the strong wording, the ending was changed and the final version called for decisions to be "made with informed student representation."
The Council also approved the UA Finance Board appeals recommendations, totaling $1,270. Ten of the 20 groups requesting appeals received additional funding.
The Logarhythms received the largest grant, $300 plus a $3,000 loan for producing a new compact disc.