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1,148 Take Part in Housing Poll; Results Not Yet Released

By Kevin R. Lang

Though complete results have not yet been released, the Undergraduate Association announced Monday that 1,148 students took part in the UA's web-based freshmen housing poll between October 16 and 26.

UA President Paul T. Oppold '99 said that while full numerical results were available almost immediately after the poll concluded, the results will be withheld at least until the UA Executive Committee meets on Wednesday. Oppold said that the UA will "form our action agenda for the term and the year" based on the results of the poll. The committee will also discuss what numerical results should be released, he said.

In addition, Oppold noted that the UA wants to present their interpretation of the data to the administration before results are made public to students. Administrators should learn the results through personal conversations, he said.

The only numeric data officially released was that approximately one fourth of MIT's undergraduate population participated in the poll, which Oppold said was typical for UA presidential elections.

Oppold also said that the UA does not consider the release of more-detailed data pressing, citing the fact that mandatory on-campus housing for freshmen will not go into effect until 2001, and that one week would not make a difference.

UAreleases limited data

Although full results are not yet public, the UA did release some information about the poll Monday evening. According to a UApress release, "most MIT undergraduates strongly support continuing dormitory rush in its current form, and reject proposals in which freshmen would choose dormitories before arriving on campus in the fall."

In addition, the poll found that "the undergraduate student body does not support MITPresident Charles M. Vest's decision to house all freshmen on campus."

The release also noted that there was "strong demand" for kitchens and lounges in the new dormitory.

Student opinions on timing for fraternity, sorority and independent living group rush were determined to have "no clear agreement".

According to Oppold, the UA conducted the poll to learn how undergraduates felt about housing issues. The first group of questions dealt with changes to dormitory rush, including possible methods for freshmen to select housing prior to arrival at MIT. The second segment dealt primarily with the timing and format of FSILGrush. Several questions polled students for opinions about the new dormitory, including what facilities it should have and who should be housed there.

Housing question raised in poll

Students were asked to decide if the numerous proposals for freshmen housing options were either very unsatisfactory, unsatisfactory, neutral, satisfactory, or very satisfactory.

However, question 22, "Do you believe it will be beneficial to require all freshmen to live on campus when the construction of the new dormitory is complete?", only allowed for "yes" or "no" answers.

This question was highly advertised around campus, with "Vote No on 22" signs postered campuswide.

While the poll questions were written by UA Committee on Housing and Orientation Co-Chairs Matthew L. McGann '00 and Jennifer C. Berk '01, the actual poll was conducted by Oppold and Benjamin M. Adida G, who designed the UA's new web-based voting system.

Poll results were available to the UA early Monday morning, and no delays were reported due to the voting system or computer glitches.

Some students whose e-mail is forwarded to non-Athena accounts had difficulty accessing the voting program, Oppold said. Apparently, Information Systems lists of eligible voters included non-Athena addresses that were denied access with personal certificates.

The UA constitution states that referenda and advisory questions must be run by the UA Election Commissioner, but Oppold said he felt that the constitution was unclear. In addition, Oppold noted that the Election Commissioner position is essentially vacant between freshmen elections and the instatement of a new commissioner in November. Seth Bisen-Hersch '01, who served as election commissioner during this year's freshman class elections, could not be reached for comment yesterday evening.

The UA election policies require that results be released "in a timely manner," though it is unclear how the poll fits into constitutional regulations for referenda and advisory questions.