UA, Dorm Action Committee Address Housing ProposalsBy Daniel C. Stevenson
The Undergraduate Association Committee on Student Life met Sunday evening to organize a response to administration proposals to renovate East Campus and Senior House and move their residents to west campus dormitories.
Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs, directed the high-level Strategic Housing Planning Committee in September 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, said Senior Associate Dean for UESA Robert M. Randolph, chair of the committee. Displaced undergraduates from Senior House would possibly be housed at Ashdown House, currently a graduate dormitory on west campus, Randolph said.
Another student group, the Senior House/East Campus Action Committee, composed of representatives of both dormitories, also met Sunday night to approve a mission statement and organize subcommittees, said co-chair Dhaya Lakshminarayanan '96, East Campus vice president.
Smith has tentatively agreed to meet with the Senior House government, the Action Committee, and concerned students Thursday evening to discuss the proposed renovations and the future of Senior House.
According to the mission statement of the joint committee, the group "has organized itself in order to allay student concerns regarding the future status of East Campus and Senior House."
The committee will be primarily concerned with exploring independent options, collecting and verifying information, allaying student concerns, and ensuring that students have been "substantially and sufficiently included in the process of planning and decision-making," according to the mission statement.
The subcommittees will work on organizing correspondence, contacting alumni, and arranging meetings with administrators in various Institute offices, Lakshminarayanan said.
The Committee on Student Life discussed the idea of student representation on the administration planning committee. Several residents and former residents of East Campus and Senior House were also present at the CSL meeting.
John S. Hollywood '96, chair of the committee, said that students need to have input on the planning committee, both for the short-term issues concerning the dormitories and for longer-term planning projects.
In a meeting last week, Randolph indicated to UA President Vijay P. Sankaran '95 that he did not want student input until after the planning stages were through, Sankaran said.
However, the planning committee should involve students in both the planning and decision making processes, said Jennifer A. Pinson '98, a CSL member. "If we don't have a seat on the committee, it won't come to anything," she said.
Roger G. Kermode G, president of the Graduate Student Council, said that having students present at every meeting of the planning committee might be impractical for the students and the committee. Kermode suggested asking the committee for progress reports or minutes from each meeting as another way of keeping informed.
"The problem with that is we want to be involved in the decision making process, not be told the decision once it is made," said Theresa V. Iuzzolino G, a former East Campus resident.
Students deserve representation on the committee because the issues being considered by the committee have a serious impact on student life, said Jason W. Solinsky '95, Senior House representative to the UA Council.
At the conclusion of the discussion, Hollywood said he would ask the UA Executive Committee to approve a motion asking for two undergraduate representatives on the planning committee.
Grad students also concerned
Kermode and two other GSC officers expressed concern over the housing proposal's impact on graduate students in a letter to The Tech ["GSC Feels Ashdown Plans Deserve Graduate Input", page 5].
"There appears to be a lack of concern for the impact of any housing changes on graduate student life at MIT," wrote Kermode, GSC Secretary Susan L. Ipri G, and co-chair of the GSC Housing and Community Affairs Committee Joseph P. Bambenek G.
Ashdown is important to graduate students because "it is the only housing option that offers dormitory-style living to graduate students at MIT," the three wrote. "In addition, it is the only graduate housing facility that is centrally located on campus."
The GSC officers called for including "the needs and views of graduate students" in the decision-making process, and that graduate students not be treated "as second or third order effects."
The GSC will be distributing a housing survey to all graduate students living on-campus within the next few weeks, Kermode said. The survey is designed to find out what graduate students like about housing, he said.
The survey will focus on housing in general, rather than the current proposals, Kermode said. The questions will be about the particular features studentsrmode said. The survey will help the GSC get an idea of graduate students' opinions, which they will then bring to the administration, he said.