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Reorganization Combines Housing-Related Offices

By Brett Altschul

The Office of Residence and Campus Activities and the Department of Housing and Food Services have undergone a major restructuring, with many of both offices' functions being combined into the new Office of Residential Life and Student Life Programs.

The reorganization should help unify many aspects of MIT's housing system, said Associate Dean for RLSLP Andrew M. Eisenmann '70. "There were redundancies that were split in ways that may or may not make sense."

For example, housing assignments for undergraduates were made by RCA, but those for graduate students were made by HFS, he said. The separation of the administrative and program-oriented components of the housing system wasn't serving a useful purpose, Eisenmann said.

"Neither office exists as it was before," he said. RLSLP includes people from both of the old offices, he said.

This reorganization and the formation of RLSLP is part of an effort to change the overall character of the Office of the Dean for Students and Undergraduate Education, he said.

The new structure will draw together many different ideas, Eisenmann said. "We want to remove the many splits that exist in our housing system."

There are sharp divisions between undergraduate and graduate housing policies and procedures, he said. Likewise, there are many differences between dormitories and fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups.

Eliminating some of the arbitrary splits should lead to a more unified MIT community, Eisenmann said. "We want people to be able to share their commonalities, while still appreciating their differences," he said.

MIT Card, dining not affected

The food services and MIT Card functions of the old Department of HFS will be less affected by the reorganization, said Lawrence E. Maguire, former director of HFS and now director of the MIT Card Office.

No changes are planned for the MIT Card, Maguire said. In the immediate future, the MIT Card Office will continue to run as it has in the past, he said.

MIT's dining system is currently under review and modification. The fundamental changes to the food services system have already been established, and this reorganization is not expected to affect them further.

Reorganization has long history

"There's a long context behind the integration," Eisenmann said.

The integration of RCA and HFS was first suggested in 1996 by the Housing and Residential Life re-engineering team. The team made the suggestion in a preliminary report, calling for RCA and HFS to combine by the end of 1996.

After the HARL team's report, a Residential System Integration Team formed in the spring of 1997 to enact the HARL recommendations.

"The events of the past year have slowed the implementation by the RSIT," Eisenmann said. However, the extra time has allowed the team to proceed more thoughtfully, and the overall effect of the delay should prove to be positive, he said.

In the 1996 reorganization of MIT's administrative structure, HFS moved from reporting to MIT's senior vice-president to reporting to Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams.