Loss of McCormick Dining Hall Is More Than Loss of Meals
I am a resident of McCormick Hall, and I just wanted to put in my two cents about the dining hall situation. I still remember fondly the days of my freshmen year, when my roommates and I would rush downstairs at 5:00 p.m. each day to enjoy a nice, cozy dinner in the McCormick Dining Hall. I feel that it enhanced the social atmosphere of the dorm because it was the one time when people in the dorm congregated together, and you could actually see faces in the dorm you may not have otherwise had the chance to.
It was also wonderful to be able to invite or just see professors and T.A.s come to eat with us. After that year, the Dining Hall was closed down, and I didn't think it would affect me or the other residents too much. I was not happy about the decision, but I did not bother to complain because we had kitchens on each floor, and Lobdell and Networks were both so close.
After a year and a half without our dining halls, I am now seeing the long-term effects. It is no secret that McCormick tends to be a relatively quiet dorm compared to the others. This may be a direct consequence of being a single-sex dorm, but also may result from the fact that there are no informal places to hang out, such as a common room or lounge. McCormick consists of two towers, with singles in the East Tower and singles and triples in the West Tower. There is a kitchen on each floor, but no lounges like Next House or Burton-Conner.
Due to this isolating architecture, I believe that our Dining Hall was an integral component to our dorm. And now that it is gone, a lot of the communication has been lost. Residents do not feel like they are a part of the dorm, but rather view it as "just a place to sleep." This has become evident in the low participation of events from semi-formals and community service projects to simple monthly house meetings.
I applaud Baker for taking the initiative to try and reinstall their dining system back into the dorm, but I think this burden should not be placed on the students; I feel it is the responsibility of the school. For while MIT provides us with a second-to-none education, there is so much more to college life, especially at a place as diverse as MIT. We should take the time to exchange ideas, and to learn from other people's experiences because this is one of our greatest resources here - the people.
And I feel that the dining system we have now is inhibiting this form of interaction. People at MIT are so busy that it is easy to grab a quick meal and eat "on the go." But if given the chance, we may also realize that a nice dinner or lunch with other residents or colleagues would benefit the social and intellectual environment of the dorms and MIT, and enrich student life altogether.
I am aware that the financial situation is not going to be easily worked out, but I don't think that we should only be given two alternatives - to close down the dining halls in the dorms altogether or to place a mandatory meal plan on all the residents.
There must be a compromise that can be worked out, and I am looking forward to working with the Committee on Dining and Aramark to find a reasonable solution that will satisfy our social environment, our pockets, and last but not least, our stomachs.
Audrey Kuang '96
Vice President/Treasurer, McCormick Hall