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MacGregor Rooms Get Grates

Screens To Be Installed Over IAP To Improve Safety, Comfort

By Kevin Lang

During winter break, contractors began installing window grates and screens in tower rooms at MacGregor House. The grates, which are constructed of a heavy window screen material, have been installed in response to safety and ventilation concerns.

Casement windows in the tower previously opened approximately fifteen degrees to prevent suicide attempts. Despite precautions, four students have toppled from the MacGregor tower in the past eleven years. After the most recent suicide last February, MacGregor faculty, staff, and GRTs met with administrators and received funding for the screens.

In addition, the old window system created ventilation problems in tower rooms. MacGregor is not air conditioned, and rooms do not have internal ventilation. “It was just really, really stuffy,” said C-Entry’s Graduate Resident Tutor, Aurora A. Burds G. “We had been asking for some way to have a barrier without bars.”

Burds said that MacGregor’s housemasters, entry tutors, and house managers had asked administrators to fund screens in the tower for years. While the most recent suicide had some impact on the decision, Burds said that “they’ve been planning this for a while.” Burds said that MacGregor House had not been able to obtain funding before now. “We had actually been asking for screens for the last several years.”

However, house president Edgardo J. Jimenez-Velazquez ’00 thought the most recent suicide prompted the move. “They’re doing it because of what happened last year,” Jimenez-Velazquez said referring to the death of Michael P. Manley ’02 last February.

Jimenez noted that the project was approved by the housemasters, House Manager Robert Ramsay, and the administration. “This was not a student decision,” he said.

However, Jimenez has not yet heard any complaints regarding room entry or problems with the installation. “I’ve heard that they’re better than the bars.” The screen installation also included the removal of the device that kept the windows from opening completely. “People have already commented that it’s nice that the windows open.”

Students notified during break

Ramsay notified residents via e-mail that installations would begin over the break, and that room entry would be supervised. “I’ll have a person from MIT, Dick Clark, retired night watchman of MacGregor, to open each resident’s room and be with the contractor while they install each screen so that your personal belongings are safe,” Ramsay said in the notice.

Students were able to notify Ramsay if they preferred to have the installation performed upon their return to campus. However, the e-mail was not sent until December 29, and some students did not receive the e-mail until they returned to campus. Ramsay was not immediately available for comment.

Burds said that the contractors are making appointments with as many students as possible now that people are returning to campus.

Installation began at the top of the tower with A-Entry, and will eventually cover the entire residence. Lounges and common areas were screened first. Heavier-gauge mesh grates are being installed on the upper floors of the tower, and standard window screens will be installed in rooms on lower floors.