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Draft Housing Proposal Calls for Dorm Upgrades

By Aaron Belenky

In a preliminary draft of its report, the Undergraduate Association Committee on Housing and Residence and Orientation recommended building a new dormitory, renovating the existing ones, improving security, and investigating drug and alcohol abuse at certain dormitories.

The preliminary report, released last week, was critical in its evaluation of the Department of Housing and Food Services. The report said the housing administration had repeatedly failed to solve problems "compassionately and quickly."

The final report "will specifically list problems we found in all living groups," said committee Chairman John S. Hollywood '96. "We looked at physical conditions, interpersonal conditions, and house governments."

The report will cover dormitories in detail and independent living groups in less detail, Hollywood added.

The final draft will be released shortly after Spring Break. The preliminary draft is not official and still must be approved by the UA council before it is officially released, according to UA President Hans C. Godfrey '93.

However, "the report represents to position of the Committee at this time," Hollywood said.

Report summary

The committee made a total of 10 recommendations.

The report offered that MIT should construct a new dormitory for 100 to 200 undergraduates. In addition, it recommended substantial upgrades to the physical condition of Random Hall, Senior House, and Baker House.

Security was also a concern, and the committee called for a review of the dormitory card reader system, among other suggestions. It also expressed concern about the frequent lack of a night watchman at Random Hall.

The committee would like an investigation into the level of drug and alcohol use at Bexley Hall, Senior House, Baker House, Burton Third at Burton House, and Fifth East at East Campus; and they recommend that actions should be taken to reduce or eliminate such use.

The report reviewed the training of R/O workers and the IFC's "badmouthing" rule. Changes to the R/O system, including lengthening R/O week and reworking housing lotteries, should be considered, the report said.

The committee also found the ILG Life/Safety program to be an "unacceptable conflict of interest." In the program, a single contractor is responsible for both recommending and implementing improvements, with guaranteed acceptance of the recommendations.

Assistant Dean and advisor to fraternities, sororities, and ILGs Neal H. Dorow declined to comment until after he had seen the final report. However, he did say that the Life/Safety Initiative is designed to provide for a "comfortable level of safety" at ILGs, and in many cases exceeds legally required specifications.

Most content with housing

In compiling its report, the committee conducted 383 surveys, about 60 interviews, and tours of various living groups. Committee members have inspected each dormitory and are beginning to examine ILGs on a case-by-case basis, according to Hollywood.

Based on these surveys, the committee concluded that "most undergraduate students are quite content with MIT housing." On a scale of 10, dormitory residents gave their housing a rating of 7.8, while ILG residents gave a rating of 9.1, for an overall rating of 8.3.

The committee also found that "dormitory overcrowding per se appears not to be a major issue for students." However, the committee acknowledges that overcrowding is an important issue and will continue to grow if not addressed.

The construct of a new undergraduate dormitory, the committee said, would alleviate overcrowding, satisfy more students in their housing assignment, and serve as housing for displaced students while dormitories are improved.