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Safety Issues Give New Graduate Dorm Idea No Appeal

The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to President Charles M. Vest and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Robert M. Randolph.

I would like to add my voice to those of graduate students strongly opposing the recommendations of the Strategic Housing Planning Committee report concerning Ashdown House. I am a fourth-year graduate student, and I tried once living off-campus in a house not far from the Sidney and Pacific site proposed for the new dormitory. I walked through that area every day on my way to MIT, and I can say with certainty that it is a miserable, terrible, unpleasant, and unsafe area of Cambridge. It is also extremely inconvenient to walk through when bad winter weather hits, with many broken and unshoveled sidewalks.

I cannot emphasize enough how happy I was to move back into Ashdown House after living in that area. Ashdown's safety and convenience are worth everything to me. And I am enormously happy with my particular room in Ashdown, which I chose with care are waited long to get. And now, it seems as though I will be forced to leave my room, if not this year then next. I will certainly not move to the new dorm; I would rather do anything than live in that neighborhood again.

So from my point of view, the proposal is tantamount to eliminating graduate housing altogether, since I am single, male third-year, and Edgerton House is hard to get into and is in almost as unpleasant a location as the proposed site for the new dorm. And even if the new dorm were in a good location, I would be extremely displeased with being forced to move at all; moving is a huge hassle which I would much rather avoid.

My suggestion is this: If Ashdown must be converted to an undergraduate dorm, then at least let the graduate students all leave through attrition over the next several years (instead of one year). Don't kick any of us out, at any time. And build a new dorm quickly in a good, convenient, and safer location, say near Eastgate.

The entire region past the railroad tracks for about the next four blocks looks like a war zone: It's full of broken-down old warehouses and empty buildings that criminals could hide in, the streets are totally deserted at night leaving pedestrians vulnerable to attack, and finally it's completely, utterly filthy and ugly. It is no place that any self-respecting university should ask its graduate students, who are some of the best in the world, to live.

Michael P. Frank G