The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 53.0°F | Fair

Excerpts from the Strategic Housing Planning Committee Report


1. We recommend that in the immediate future we retain Senior House in our undergraduate housing inventory for the following reasons and under the following conditions:

a. Reasons

1. Senior House as undergraduate housing will allow us to end undergraduate dormitory crowding;

2. Senior House as undergraduate housing will allow us to restore flexibility in the undergraduate housing system;

3. Senior House as undergraduate housing will facilitate other needed renovations.

b. Conditions

1. renovations begin as quickly as possible; therefore, a feasibility study that tells us whether or not the building can be renovated in a summer should begin immediately with a renovations schedule firmly established. Such a study is not dependent on ultimate use of the building;

2. a flexible design that allows adaptation for other uses in future years, e.g., undergraduates now, but eventually graduate use;

3. there is serious exploration of whether or not programs like ESG, Concourse, or ISP could be housed in Senior House thus creating a residential base for all or some of these freshmen year programs;

4. flexible design include ample common space and would include exploration of the summer use option.

2. We recommend that Ashdown become an undergraduate residence under the following conditions:

a. this is a pragmatic decision and not based on any grand scheme to move all undergraduates to the west side of campus;

b. if Senior house is not renovated in the summer of 95, we suggest reserving a portion of Ashdown in the fall of 1995 and reassigning a portion of Westgate for new single graduate housing. There are currently 25 single occupants of studio apartments and the number could be increased to 50 apartments designated for use as doubles. Such moves would:

1. restore flexibility to the undergraduate housing system while ending crowding;

2. take the edge off disruption in housing options for entering graduate students.

c. if Senior House renovations must begin this summer and the dorm be out of use for the coming acad mic year, we should reserve a larger portion of Ashdown exploring whether or not our unique programs for freshman might not be housed there. Such a move would:

1. house Senior House residents and take the edge off crowding for the fall of 95;

2. in the short term be the most financially feasible option given the cost of new undergraduate housing and would allow us to mitigate crowding;

3. mean less graduate housing disruption as undergraduates would return to Senior House upon completion of renovations and graduates could remain in Ashdown until the new graduate housing is available; when new housing is complete, graduates in Ashdown would move and Ashdown would become an undergraduate dorm with appropriate renovations.

3. We recommend that the process for creating a new multi-use housing community at Sidney and Pacific in the northwest quadrant begin immediately. This is not dependent on what is done with Senior House. Given the disruption of current housing for graduate students in even the most favorable of scenarios, it is critical to begin Sidney and Pacific immediately:

a. students should be invited to help recreate the best benefits of Ashdown;

b. this move would reaffirm MIT's commitment to provide housing in Cambridge and would establish an important presence on this parcel;

c. this move would replace by 1997 the capacity lost with Ashdown;

d. this move would support existing housing presence in the northwest area.

4. Further study:

a. look more closely at the future for East Campus residence halls;

b. study the graduate tutor model and the Housemaster system;

c. give serious attention to the determination of an optimal undergraduate class size;

d. residence life issues for both graduates and undergraduates; program development for Senior House, Sidney and Pacific, Edgerton, including academic presence, dining issues, transportation and safety concerns;

e. develop a financial plan to under gird the housing changes we will need to make over the next decade.


1. Reduce demand: there are several options that relate to current policies:

a. class size may be decreased from 50 to 75 students and crowding will be eliminated over four years and kept below pain level next year. Senior House could then be renovated without crowding going above the pain threshold. The revenue impact of such decision is obvious;

b. access policies can be changed:

1.only six terms of housing for undergrads guaranteed instead of eight;

2.transfer students may not be given housing;

3.5th year undergrads will not be given housing;

4.graduate housing guarantees could be reevaluated.

c. in any case, it is time for a serious cost/benefit analysis of marginal demand vs. capacity, i.e., is it really that expensive if we cut class size?

2. Capacity options for graduates in the near term include:

a. internal to MIT:

1.Sidney/Pacific and other MIT land ASAP;

2.Eastgate second tower; additional project elements are needed before this can go forward;

3.additional northwest sites;

4.Real Estate Office: purchase, rent?

5.Westgate Tower (efficiencies) 50 out of 90 units up to 100 bed spaces for single graduate students.

b. external:

1.Cambridge/Boston rentals: options are varied, but this is an open market solution and involves no MIT presence; transportation may be needed.

3. Capacity options for undergraduates:

a. short-term:

1.keeping Senior House on line and crowding at current level

2.Ashdown 50% or less up to 200 beds

3.New ILG (sorority) 25 to 50 beds

b. long-term/resolve imbalance (96 forward):

1.New ILG 25 beds

2.Ashdown all for undergraduates 400+ beds residences (Vassar St.)

4. Senior House Options:

a. when: to renovate in the summer of 95 poses real risks given the short time frame no matter who occupies the building when it is complete;

b. renovate in 96: some preparations might cut down the time involved; passage of time allows a more thorough planning process for the renovations and more community ownership;

c. who: graduate students are on a 12-month contract and use by graduate students means that use during the summer is not possible; undergraduate use with the option of the building being used during the summer for conferences is possible if renovations are done with outside use in mind; summer occupancy might generate income for the support of programs in the renovated residence;

d. multi-use design: immediate for undergraduates and summer use; long term redefine should needs change;

e. program: obscured in the conversation about what might happen to Senior House is the reality that a new building will be a different building. A new building will not be used as the old building has been; seeing the building in terms of use by undergraduates or graduates obscures the fact that the environment will be substantially different in a renovated structure. The program that emerges as with the new building itself must be developed with input from students and under the guidance of the ODUESA/RCA.

FINALLY: The Committee will now turn its attention again to the broader issues that called it into being. We will continue to gather information to be used as background for the work of a faculty committee on the undergraduate experience to be convened after the first of the year.

(the complete text of the SHPCreport can be found online at the following URL: