GSC Group Calls Emergency MeetingBy Daniel C. Stevenson
The Graduate Student Council Housing and Community Affairs Committee held an emergency meeting last night to react to the possibility that Ashdown House will no longer be a graduate dormitory.
The administration's Strategic Housing Planning Committee recommended last week that Ashdown be converted for use by undergraduates and that a new graduate dormitory be constructed at the corner of Sidney and Pacific streets in Cambridge.
The committee decided to immediately commission a survey of Ashdown residents to "determine the impact of Ashdown no longer being a graduate dormitory," according to Joseph J. Bambenek G, chair of the committee.
The results of the survey will be forwarded to the administration for consideration in making any housing decisions, Bambenek said.
President Charles M. Vest said last month he will make a final decision about short-term housing plans by the end of Independent Activities Period.
General survey results released
The new survey comes on the heels of the Monday release of the results of a general graduate student housing survey. That survey found that graduate students considered convenience, in terms of location and hassle-free housing, as primary reasons for choosing their dormitories.
Next to convenience, respondents listed cost, type of living arrangements, and safety as reasons for selecting their current dormitory. Among Ashdown residents, the sense of community and social atmosphere was the second most important reason.
Thirty-six percent of the 1,450 graduate students living in on-campus housing responded to the general survey sent out in November.
Over one-third of the survey respondents were Ashdown residents and almost half were first-year graduate students. Fifty-six percent were first-year residents of graduate housing. Males outnumbered females three to one for those who indicated gender.
Proposed new dorm unfavorable
Only 7.7 percent of graduate students surveyed would prefer to live in a new graduate dormitory located half a mile from campus and costing $150 more per month than current dormitories, according to the results of the survey.
That specific option was chosen because the committee was aware that the Sidney and Pacific site was under consideration and "we were also under the impression that it would be more expensive than Tang Hall or Ashdown," Bambenek said.
If their current residence was unavailable, 34 percent of those surveyed would choose to live in the new building.
"MIT could potentially lose a large number of residents if the Institute were to close down one of its current residences and replace it with a new building," the committee wrote in the report.
If the administration were to build a new graduate dormitory, 61 percent of those surveyed want it to be all single bedrooms. A large majority of those against that format currently live in Ashdown, according to the results.
Ashdown provides an assortment of single, double, and triple rooms. The majority of the residents live in doubles.
Ashdown "has a social environment that is different than the other buildings," Bambenek said. "Living in a dormitory like Ashdown with common areas, especially a kitchen, is much more conducive to social activity" than apartment-style dormitories, he said.
While many graduate students prefer the privacy of an apartment, "there is still a segment who like living in a more social environment," Bambenek said.
"It would appear that there is a desire among graduate students for a facility with the features (community atmosphere, dormitory-style living) that Ashdown House possesses," the committee wrote in the report. "This desire is clearly in the minority overall population of graduate students, but it does nevertheless exist."