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Only 50 Spaces in Ashdown Will House Undergraduates

Tech File Photo
Ashdown House

By Daniel C. Stevenson
Editor in Chief

No major housing changes will occur in the near future, according to a statement released Thursday by Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith.

Smith's statement softened the recommendations made last month by the Strategic Housing Planning Committee, saying that no dormitories will be entirely converted from graduate to undergraduate housing or vice versa.

Smith went on to say that when further decisions are made, "there will be opportunity for all concerned parties to take part in discussions of plans for student housing."

Senior House will be renovated over the next two summers but will remain undergraduate, Smith said, adhering to the course of action recommended by the SHPC. "While plans for renovation should allow for flexibility in long-term use or alternative summer use, the basic assumption is that Senior House will house undergraduates," he said.

Regarding additional graduate housing, Smith said that rather than commence construction of a new graduate dormitory immediately, the administration has decided to hold an open meeting "to exchange information and to develop an agenda so that concrete planning" can occur. Plans for construction will not be considered until the summer or fall, he said.

Smith's statement came at the end of Independent Activities Period, when President Charles M. Vest had said a decision about the future of Senior House and other dormitories would be made by senior administrators.

Ashdown chair pleased

In his announcement, Smith scaled down the SHPC's plan for full conversion of Ashdown House, currently a graduate dormitory, for undergraduate use. Smith said that only about 50 spaces in Ashdown would be used for undergraduate housing next fall to "relieve the potential overcrowding in undergraduate housing."

The changes can be made "without harmful effect on the graduate student community and can produce a good undergraduate experience for those who would live there," Smith said.

"We really have no problem with putting 50 undergraduates" in Ashdown this fall, said Thomas H. Burbine G, Ashdown chair. The course of action Smith announced "is the best of what we could have expected," he said.

Rooms now used to house visiting scientists and visiting scholars would be among those most likely to be converted for undergraduate use, Burbine said.

Burbine also said he was pleased that the Senior House renovations had been scheduled for the summer. "That means that they won't be putting Senior House residents in Ashdown" during the academic year, he said.

The administration's intentions regarding new graduate housing are still unclear, Burbine said. "Most of us feel that [administrators] pretty much have made up their minds" to build the new dormitory at a site on Sidney and Pacific streets, and cannot be persuaded otherwise, he said.

Over the past few weeks, graduate students have criticized the Sidney and Pacific location as inconvenient and crime-ridden.

Although Smith promised an open meeting to discuss additional graduate housing, his announcement "is very, very vague and we're still unsure of how we are getting input into the process," Burbine said.

The increasing moderation of administration proposals and decisions seems to indicate that "whoever complains more gets things across," Burbine said. In the fall, undergraduates organized a vocal lobbying effort to maintain an undergraduate presence at Senior House and East Campus, and the administration plans swerved in their favor, he said.

However, graduate students have been more vocal over the last several weeks, and may have influenced the administration's decisions, Burbine said.

In his statement, Smith said that the administration had listened to student opinion. "The senior officers of the Institute have received many thoughtful communications from students, alumni, faculty, and staff regarding the renovation of Senior House, overcrowding of undergraduate housing, and the future form and location of graduate housing."