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Dormitories May Accomidate 120 Crowds

Associate News Editor

Institute dormitories are projected to exceed their maximum normal capacity by about 120 students next year, according to Phillip M. Bernard, program director of residential life. The level of dormitory crowding is similar to that seen last year.

Bernard has "absolutely no idea" exactly how high crowding will be because the number of freshmen joining fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups affects the number of crowds required, he said. Projections for crowding are based upon 375 freshmen choosing to live off-campus.

This number is down from the 390 predicted last year, because that projection turned out to be too high, Bernard said.

The crowding calculations also assume that three students will move off campus into FSILGs leaving about 730 of the 1,076 freshmen to be housed in dormitories. There are 610 openings in the dormitories, creating the need for about 120 additional spaces, Bernard said.

Extra spaces are created by changing large singles into doubles, and some doubles into triples. According to the crowding scheme used by Residence and Campus Activities, crowding happens first in Burton-Conner House, East Campus, New House and Next House, which are most easily adapted to make new spaces.

Several factors may lead to lower crowding this year including that this year's class is smaller and has a greater percentage of men than last year's class, said Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Andrew M. Eisenmann. The larger percentage of men may improve fraternity rush yields.

Crowding higher in previous years

This year's level of crowding is "certainly at the low end" over the past 15 years, Eisenmann said. He said that as many as 220 rooms were crowded at some times.

We are debating if "any level of crowding is acceptable" Eisenmann said. He said that the current target level is 110 crowded rooms.

"I don't look at crowding as a positive," Bernard said. Other universities look at exceeding capacity in a positive light because of the extra revenue it produces, he said.

"It's clear that we want to manage better the level of crowding," Eisenmann said. There are "a number of possible ways" to manage crowding.

The level of crowding depends on the size of the class, and the number of students who decide to live off campus or in FSILGs. In addition, MIT policies such as guaranteeing eight terms of housing and guaranteeing all freshmen housing on campus also affect crowding levels, Eisenmann said.

The number of ninth term housing requests that are granted also affects crowding though this year only 12 of 70 requests were granted, on par with previous years, Bernard said.

Altering any of these policies or constructing new housing options are "all parts of the puzzle," Eisenmann said.

Dormitory rush affects crowding

"Unfortunately [crowding] has to be done," said Ashesh P. Shah '98, president of the Dormitory Council. "The last couple of years have been pretty good" for the crowding load, he said.

"It's a fine line," Shah said of the effect of dorm rush on crowding. "If you try to promote fraternity rush you get complaints and if you don't enable them [to rush] you get stuck with the freshmen."

"I think that the school should build another dorm," he said.