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Undergraduate Residence Crisis Taxes Graduate Housing System

By Payal Kohli

The graduate housing system, already strained and failing to meet its goal of housing a third of graduate students, has been further beleaguered by this year's decision to move undergraduates into the graduate system.

It appears that effect of moving undergraduates into Tang Hall will be temporary. The impact of plans to build a new undergraduate dorm could, however, delay a long planned graduate dorm and affect the graduate housing system in the long term.

Many of the open spaces in Tang Hall, a graduate residence, were assigned to undergraduates, while graduate students were allotted space in Worthington Place, an apartment complex in Cambridge.

First year graduate students were allowed to sign a one year lease at Worthington Place for the cost of a Tang lease. Undergraduates in Tang also signed a similar one-year lease. When the lease ends next year, graduate students will be unable to renew it at the discounted Tang rate.

Brian Schneider G, president of the Graduate Student Council, anticipates that "most of the undergraduates living in Tang will leave after their one-year lease is over. This will allow more incoming graduate students to be move in."

Phillip A. Bernard, program director of residential life, explains that the displacement of graduate students to Worthington is "only a temporary solution."

Schneider believes, however, that "as the numbers of graduate students continue to increase and the housing market in Cambridge becomes increasingly difficult, a shortage of graduate student housing is expected."

New graduate dorm stalled

The administration has long realized it lacked sufficient graduate housing. A new graduate dormitory has been scheduled to open in the fall of 1999 since at least 1995.

A client team, consisting of graduate students, faculty, and staff was formed during the summer of 1997 and has met since then on a regular basis to plan out the details. The location for the dormitory has been set at Sydney andPacific streets in the University Park area.

Disagreements within the client team however, have made it impossible to open the dorm in 1999. While graduate students on the committee desire individual rooms and kitchens, the entire committee is not in agreement.

Carsten A. Hohnke G, a member of the client team and treasurer of the GSC said, "the Planning Office kept wasting time distributing surveys until they found the answer they wanted to hear."

In addition to this delay, the committee responsible for incorporating the concepts into a design was also unclear of the types of structures necessary for developing the community and as a result, the progress of the dorm was severely impeded.

President Charles M. Vest's recent announcement of the new undergraduate facility, scheduled to open in 2001, has pushed the plans of the graduate dorm until the fall of 2002.

Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow '72 has indicated that the undergraduate housing project takes precedence over the graduate dormitory.

Although the Institute guarantees on-campus housing for undergraduates during all four years, there is no such mandate for graduate housing and therefore less pressure on the administration to open a graduate house in the near future.

"Ihave heard several complaints that accepted students choose to go elsewhere because MIT doesn't offer enough housing for its graduate student population," Schneider said. "MITwill realize sooner or later that it must be able to offer affordable housing in order to attract the best graduate students."