Poor Planning and Worse Communication
The recent decision by the administration to move a number of undergraduates to Tang Hall shows limited foresight and demonstrates a disturbing change in policy. This move highlights the dangerously overtaxed nature of the housing system and again brings into question the status of graduate students in the administration's housing philosophy.
Members of the graduate community, including representatives of the Graduate Student Council, have raised serious objections to the proposal that undergraduates be housed in Tang. Graduate students should have been consulted about a decision which will affect their opportunities for on-campus housing. The fact that no substantive dialog on this issue seems to have occurred demonstrates that the administration still does not wish to include students in the decision-making process on housing, an attitude The Tech has condemned in the past, and does again here.
As a consolation to graduate students, the administration has offered to provide subsidies for apartments in Worthington Place. If the subsidized rents there are beyond the range of graduate students, however, the move will do little to relieve the problem. If subsidies can bring down rents to par with other graduate housing, this problem will be mitigated, although the added expense of furniture remains a consideration.
However, even if equivalent housing is found, the Tang decision still sends the message that the needs of undergraduates supercede those of graduate students. The administration should take more care to balance the needs of these two elements of the community. Graduate students deserve to know where they stand with respect to the administration.
In addition, the necessity of this move demonstrates the instability inherent in MIT's housing system. Housing on and off-campus is overtaxed. The administration has shown a callous indifference towards its student body by operating a dormitory system at over 100 percent of capacity and by depending heavily on the assumption that incoming students will choose to live in fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups. The relative stability of this system in the recent past was more the result of chance than of good planning. Permanent changes, such as the undergraduate dormitory planned for Vassar Street, will be a step in the right direction, provided that the number of accepted freshmen is not increased to maintain the current levels of occupancy.
Although the move to house undergraduates in Tang was inconsiderate and abrupt, good may come of it. As more undergraduates take up residence in graduate dorms, these arrangements have become an experiment in integration by creating a unique opportunity for graduate students and undergraduates to live together. Perhaps these changes will become a model for future housing policy. Hopefully, however, the decision-making practices that led to them, and to the unfortunate dislocation of graduate students, will not be repeated.