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Residents' Campaign Keeps Burton House Manager

Daniel C. Stevenson--The Tech
Jill A. Depto '97

By Daniel C.Stevenson

A campaign by Burton-Conner House residents earlier this month has eliminated the possibility of losing their popular house manager for the foreseeable future.

A Department of Housing and Food Services restructuring plan called for the relocation of Burton-Conner house manager Kenneth Donaghey to Senior House and East Campus, Donaghey said.

However, a student-led lobbying effort resulted in Director of Housing and Food Services Lawrence E. Maguire announcing that no changes were planned and it was highly unlikely they would ever happen.

Plan called for rearrangement of house managers

Donaghey was told that the plan called for him to leave Burton and assume responsibilities for EastCampus and Senior House. Current EastCampus House Manager John P. Corcoran is retiring at the end of September, and Senior House's Daniel P. Conceison is taking a different position in HFS. Linda A. Petralia, currently house manager for Bexley Hall and Random Hall, was to go to Burton, Donaghey said. Also retiring will be Louise T. Keohane, house manager for New House.

Donaghey was told that the rearrangement would happen sometime in August, so as to "get people into the new dorms before the start of the school year."

Housing officials talked with Donaghey several times about moving to East Campus and Senior House, but each time he stated he was not interested, he said.

"About the third time I met with people, I thought it was a situation that was going to take place," Donaghey said. "They came back saying something like this is what we're looking to do.'" At that time, Donaghey notified Burton-Conner residents and the housemasters.

Student organizes campaign

Then JillA. Depto '97, Burton-Conner's summer desk captain, stepped in. Depto quickly founded the "Save Our Ken"campaign, alerting residents via posters and e-mail after hearing the proposed changes earlier this month. She organized a petition drive and encouraged concerned residents to contact Maguire.

"WhatI tried to do was set up a campaign where people who cared would e-mail Larry Maguire with the hope that if enough students responded, he would not remove Ken," Depto said. About 20 students signed the petition, andDepto knows of at least 30 others who sent e-mail to Maguire.

At one point, Depto discussed the matter with some EastCampus and Senior House residents who were worried that Donaghey didn't want them or didn't like them. That was not the case at all, Depto said."He wants to stay here, and we want him to stay here."

Maguire: Relocation plan was only an idea

Donaghey and the other incumbent house managers will remain in their dorms through the beginning of the year, Maguire announced a few days after the lobbying effort began.

They will most likely keep their positions for the foreseeable future, he said.

Any talk about changes and rearranging was the result of some "ideas that were afloat" in HFS that got picked up by the "rumor mill," Maguire said.

Housing officials asked Donaghey if he would like to move, he indicated he didn't want to move, and that was all, he said. "I don't know how [the rumors about the move] got started."

Because some of the vacant house manager positions are the result of MIT's early retirement plan, Maguire can only hire one new person for each two retiring people, leading to the idea that two dormitories may have to share one house manager.

Over the coming weeks, Maguire will work with the dormitory presidents, residents, and housemasters to come up with a plan for replacing the departing house managers.

"I think we can do that pretty quickly," Maguire said. In the interim, some of the veteran house managers could fill in, he said.

Excellent fit' with Burton

The reason why Burton-Conner residents responded so quickly and positively when they heard about the proposed plan is because Donaghey is "very personable, he's a nice guy, and he interacts with the students,"Depto said.

When a student needs something, such as a housing extension or help with some problem in their room, Donaghey is there, she said.

"He knows everybody's name and where they live," she said. "His personality is an excellent fit with Burton-Conner."

"When something needs to be fixed he makes sure it gets done right away,"Depto said, in contrast to stories she's heard about absentee house managers at other dormitories.