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Moving Toward Better Housing

MIT's residence system will be redesigned from the ground up over the next two years. The Tech hopes that students, via the Independent Activities Period design contest, will be the force behind that redesign.

The Tech has previously praised student input in the problem of housing design and encourages students, faculty, and staff to become involved in the process. We call on the administration, specifically Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow '72 and President Charles M. Vest, to review student designs with an open mind and abide by student recommendations.

Vest's decision to house all freshmen on campus and the questions that form the basis of the design contest have already laid down limitations on the yet-to-be-designed housing system. We hope that the administration will now step back and allow students to make the decisions that they will live with in the future. Students are the most qualified group to design the new system.

Students, however, will not be responsible for this decision if the administration pays only lip service to the proposed designs or ignores them entirely. The administration must not try to choose the design that best fits its preconceived notions of a housing system. The next residence system should represent a consensus of student opinion to the furthest extent possible.

Students, for their part, must become involved in the process and must recognize practical limitations on housing design. Students must work to produce the best housing system possible given the constraints within our changed environment. Change is inevitable, and becoming involved in that change is the best option.

We encourage everyone involved in shaping housing design to be aware of several issues that have characterized this debate. MIT should work to avoid a further polarization of the community between dormitory and independent living group members. While preserving the benefits of the fraternity, sorority and independent living group system such as mentoring of freshmen is important, much of the debate on this issue implies that such benefits are not available in dormitories. These implications are insulting to many dormitory residents.

Moreover, we strongly recommend that the student teams work with other members of the MIT community, particularly faculty. Most professors have been at MIT far longer than students and can provide a useful historical perspective that students lack.

In addition, while freshmen on campus and FSILG rush are important issues, design teams should not overlook the less prominent but equally important issues such as the role of graduate resident tutors and resident advisors.

This residence design contest presents the student body with an opportunity to truly shape its future. If students become involved and the administration maintains its good faith in this contest, the next residence system could truly belong to the students who occupy it.