The Other Housing Protest
There is an activist student body on campus, and that body is the Graduate Student Council. MIT's undergraduate governments would be well served in following the GSC's example.
Concerned that the construction of a graduate dormitory will be delayed, the GSC bombarded the administration with e-mails expressing its concern. The GSC fears that the graduate student dormitory promised to be built by 2002 will be axed from this year's budget.
Graduate students, who already spend about 50 percent of their income on housing, will probably face the brunt of the administration's decision to house all freshmen on campus by 2001. For the last decade or so, graduate students have been promised a new dormitory, only to find their promise deferred every year.
Several years ago, 1999 was supposed to be the year graduate students would see a new dormitory. Instead, the administration has crowded undergraduates into Tang Hall, and the Stata Complex and renovations to Baker are currently at a higher priority than the graduate dormitory. The Tech, like graduate students, is skeptical that the administration's current promise of building a graduate dormitory by 2002 will be fulfilled.
If only the Undergraduate Association would be as activist as the GSC. For instance, the UA conducted a poll last year to chart student discontent with the decision to house all freshmen on campus, and despite finding that 90 percent of those who replied disapproved of the administration's decision, the UA did nothing to follow up. It let the administration steamroll student concerns. Even the somewhat well-attended, Fall Registration Day Housing Protest and the much lesser-attended Spring Registration Day Housing Protest were ostensibly sponsored by the UA "because students' voices should be heard", not because the UA was taking a stand in the face of the Administration, or attempting to rally undergraduate students under a specific issue.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil this is the lesson graduate students have learned over the years, and this is the lesson undergraduate governments must learn as well. Administrators don't hear unless students make themselves heard. While the GSC has risked the administration's wrath for appearing whiny and unconstructive, the administration typically leaves students little other choice in getting their concerns heard.