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Increased Female Admission Causes Problems for Housing


Tiffany Lin--The Tech
McCormick Hall is the only all-female undergraduate dormitory. Of the 225 freshmen who ranked McCormick first in the housing lottery, only 65 were able to get rooms in the domitory.

By A. Arif Husain
Associate News Editor

The high percentage of women in this year's freshman class has brought new challenges to find all-female housing accommodations, according to Residence and Campus Activities Staff Associate Philip M. Bernard, who is in charge of dormitory assignments.

Bernard and other housing officials have been faced with concerns from parents and new students citing religious, ethical, and medical reasons for wanting all women housing.

"Clearly there are issues this rush which we never encountered before, because of the large numbers of women," Bernard said.

Of the 740 freshmen assigned Institute housing this year, 432, or 58 percent, were women. There has been difficulty accommodating the all-female housing requests since McCormick House is the only specifically designed all-female housing option on campus, said Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Margaret A. Jablonski.

There is a need to expand housing in general since only 60 of the 225 women who chose McCormick could be placed there, Jablonski said. Approximately 100 additional all-female bed spaces are required to satisfy the current need.

RCA hopes to work with room assignment coordinators from each dormitory to make more all-female housing areas available on both east and west ends of campus. Bernard hopes to involve students as much as possible, relying on their knowledge of each dormitory's facilities.

"We might try to provide a floor, wing, or entry," Jablonski said.

Since no all-female housing exists on the east side of campus, that area will be emphasized, she said. Jablonski plans to meet with room assignment chairs and Dormitory Council within the next two weeks and arrive at a firm resolution by February.

The Institute must consider how to address the needs of the current population of women, as well as provide resources for a growing trend, Bernard said.

"We don't want parents of prospective students to think MIT is not addressing this concern."

Rush prompts restructuring

Apart from McCormick, this past rush posed problems for many dormitories, including MacGregor House and Burton-Conner House, which were targeted for their all-female suites.

Almost every house was assigned more women than men, Bernard said. Many were not expecting the change.

In Burton, "all-female suites happen by chance," said Carmine A. DiChiara '96, Burton room assignment chair. Residents are able to choose a suite, and all-female suites occur by coincidence.

"We are right now thinking of restructuring our rules to make them more complete and durable when it comes to these kinds of problems," DiChiara said. "We found it very difficult to handle the problem."

Another means to provide more female housing options will be to purchase off-campus sites for sororities. The next two sororities in line to acquire a house are Sigma Kappa and Kappa Alpha Theta, Jablonski said.