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Dormcon Asks MIT To Bring Back Tax

By Dan McGuire
Staff Reporter

The Dormitory Council has sent forward to the Department of Housing and Food Services a letter requesting that the department resume collecting the Dormcon house tax.

The letter requested the reinstatement of the house tax at the level of $1 each term per person, beginning in the spring term.

All dormitory presidents - who serve as the members of Dormcon - signed the letter. No representative from Bexley Hall, which does not have a president and is not part of Dormcon, signed the request. Dormcon decided not to tax Bexley residents.

Tax wrongly discontinued

The Dormcon tax on residents of undergraduate dormitories was instituted many years ago to provide funds to Dormcon, which then redistributed those funds to dormitory governments. Dormcon records indicate that in the 1970s, dormitory governments were allowed to set their own house tax and the Dormcon tax was reduced to between one and four dollars a semester.

Tax collection was discontinued in 1991 when Dormcon failed to submit a budget request for the 1992-1993 fiscal year. Former Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities James R. Tewhey "called in the president of Dormcon and threatened to Dormcon funding unless the president drafted an alcohol initiative," said Dormcon President and East Campus President Dhaya Lakshminarayanan '96.

"The officers had no idea that [Dean] Tewhey had no power to do thisŠ so they agreed to," work on the initiative, she said. Once the initiative was completed, "the Dormcon officers assumed that funding would be reinstatedŠ it was a misunderstanding on the officers' part," she said. As a result, Dormcon went several thousand dollars into debt during the 1992-1993 fiscal year.

"The tax existed for a long time," said Burton-Conner House President Niraj Gupta '96; the group is simply reinstating a discontinued tax.

Funds will go to dorm-wide events

"When we used to be a funded organization Dormcon would actively support dorm-wide events that means financially aiding events like Senior House's Steer Roast, East Campus's Spring Picnic and Carnival, MacGregor's Winter CarnivalŠ we funded a large Burton party," Lakshminarayanan said. She anticipates restoring funding to events like those.

"Dormcon often makes contributions to events going on around campus... anything in general to better events going on in the dorms," Gupta said.

For example, Dormcon sponsors several activities during Residence and Orientation Week, said Gupta. Dormcon monitors R/O rules and provides beepers for their R/O contacts.

As another example of the usefulness of the house tax, "let's say [a Dormcon representative] had to publish something... even small expenses like that, you don't want to tell people to payŠ out of their own pocket," said Senior House President Christopher H. Barron '97. Additionally, turning to other sources of funding might lead to a conflict of interest, Barron said.