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Next Votes To Make Wing Coed

By Mike Hall

ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

Next House residents voted overwhelmingly on Friday to abolish a section of all-female housing beginning next term.

Sixty-six percent of voters in Friday’s referendum chose to open the nine female-only rooms on Next’s Fourth West floor to both women and men while keeping a female-only bathroom on the floor. Twenty-six percent voted to reduce single-sex housing to only seven rooms and eight percent voted not to change the configuration at all.

Male residents will be allowed to choose rooms in the formerly reserved space during this Sunday’s housing lottery, according to Next House president Jay R. Mitchell ’01. Mitchell said that the change, enacted by the dormitory’s Executive Committee, was added only to the dormitory’s bylaws and can be reversed based on future demand.

In response to concerns that an informal women’s wing will form around the new single-sex bathroom, Mitchell said that, while females may choose rooms around the bathroom, “it’s not an inconvenience for guys to walk over to the next restroom.”

Most residents support change

Current residents of the women’s wing were mostly unopposed to the change, according to Fourth West graduate resident tutor Steven R. Millman G.

“Some [residents] expressed a desire to live among women, but not a strong one,” Millman said, adding that residents were concerned more with keeping a single-sex bathroom than with keeping female-only housing.

Elizabeth Bly ’03, who was assigned to the women’s wing, said that many residents of the women’s wing live there because other rooms were unavailable in the lottery.

“I have no desire to live on an all women’s hall,” Bly said, adding that she would not choose to live in the women’s wing even if it was still an option in Sunday’s housing lottery.

“The only reason I live here [in the women’s wing] is that it was the only single left,” said Amy M. Shui ’02.

Shui added, “If it were still a women’s wing, I would try to not live here.”

Single-sex housing declining

Single-sex housing within MIT dormitories has declined over the past two decades.

MacGregor House, which began as all-male housing in the 1970s, now only has one all-male entry remaining out of nine entries. The all-male “F” entry survived a challenge during fall 1999 from residents wanting to change its status.

Random Hall, which housed men only at its 1968 inception, now has four all-male floors, two all-female floors, and two co-ed floors.

Now completely co-ed, East Campus’s last all-male floor switched to co-ed housing six years ago.

McCormick Hall holds the claim for the longest-lasting single-sex housing on campus, housing only women since its opening in 1963. Related stories: