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Senior House Vents Over Renovations

By Stacey E. Blau
News Editor

At a meeting last night at Senior House, angry residents raised concerns over problems with the renovations the dormitory is undergoing.

Chief among those concerns was the recent construction that has been inconveniencing residents. The work has meant disruptive noise from drills and construction workers throughout the day and has left some residents' windows blocked completely by trash chutes that run the height of the dormitory.

"Commitments have not been met," said Senior House Housemaster Henry Jenkins, associate professor of literature. Residents were told that there would be no construction the weeks before and during finals, but those promised have been broken, he said.

"Students have lost the sense that they can trust at this point. They are not prepared to put up with being misled."

Administrators and the architects responsible for the renovation negotiated a plan with students whereby construction will continue provisionally next week. Electricians will be pulling wire in the basement to make electrical jumps on the condition that they make only minimal noise.

"If they disturb anybody, they stop," said Director of Special Services Stephen D. Immerman.

The current construction is part of an ongoing plan to completely renovate Senior House, which is the oldest dormitory at MIT. The renovation will involve completely gutting the building and rebuilding the inside mostly during this summer, although renovations began last year.

Work essential, but residents mad

The work with the wiring next week is essential because of the need to keep moving with the renovations and to do them sequentially, Immerman said.

Another consideration is that the president's house, which is located next to Senior House, may be affected by the wiring because the its wiring runs though Senior House. The best time to do the wiring is next week, when President Charles M. Vest will be travelling, the architects said.

Residents expressed their frustrations over the changes in the renovations. "I have to deal with construction workers right outside my window," said Hope N. Reid '97. "It's enough that you don't get any light and view" with some windows boarded up, she said.

"The picture on my [computer] monitor was vibrating because of the drill on my floor," said Jagruti S. Patel '97, Senior House treasurer. Students should somehow be compensated for these inconveniences, she said.

Students also complained that construction has started as early as 7:30 a.m. in spite of promises that it would not start until 9 a.m.

Administrators and architects are "uncomfortable telling us how uncomfortable it's going to be for us," said Rebecca F. Richkus '97. "I just want to know exactly what the straight truth is" about the construction, she said.

Residents were originally told that all the work would be done over the summer, but now "it seems like more and more is happening" during the term, said Oguz Ersoy G, a tutor in Senior House. "They weren't up front with it from the beginning."

MIT should have a responsibility to provide an optimal working environment for the students, Oguz said. "This responsibility shouldn't be open to discussion and negotiation. I should be able to have just a little peace and quiet when I study."

"You're asking them to agree on what we already drew a line on," Jenkins said. "That trust has been violated again and again over the past few weeks."

"I think we all understand that we're confronting a big problem," said Margaret A. Jablonski, associate dean for residence and campus activities. "We didn't realize it was going to be this bad."

Work this week will help with the renovation schedule, Immerman said. The goal is to get residents back in Senior House by Aug. 23, in time to conduct residence and orientation activities, although that may not turn out to be a realistic goal, he said.

"We have every expectation that we will be able to occupy on" Sept. 1, Jablonski said.

During the summer, construction workers will work two or maybe three shifts a day to complete work on the house on time so that residents can return, said Senior House House Manager Daniel P. Conceison.

Construction will probably continue into mid-October, Immerman said. The construction may be "as loud, if not louder, than it is now," he said.

Senior House residents will be living and storing their possessions in East Campus this summer.

Many residents expressed concern over the implications of the construction on rush. "Freshmen will most likely not be temped in Senior House" during Residence and Orientation Week, Jablonski said. Parts of the building may not even be available for tours and other rush events.

RCA, however, is planning a special event to try to "show women that East Campus and Senior House are places where they can feel comfortable," Jablonski said.