Small Step on Grad HousingMIT’s decision to convert Building NW30 into graduate housing is a positive step toward accomplishing MIT’s oft-delayed goal of increasing Institute provided graduate housing units. However, pressure on the administration must continue in order to ensure the housing needs of graduate students are met.
While the conversion of NW30 from warehouse to dormitory will provide housing for 125 graduate students, the project is no substitute for the long-awaited construction of a graduate dormitory at Sidney and Pacific Streets in University Park. That project, which could house over 500 graduate students, is essential toward meeting MIT’s stated goal of housing half of its 5,600 graduate students. The administration must redouble its efforts to finally begin this critical project with all due speed.
A second concern over the conversion of NW30 raised by Graduate Student Council President Luis A. Ortiz G also deserves consideration. Ortiz worries the conversion of NW30 may be happening only because MIT anticipates the need to shift graduate students if the opening of the new undergraduate dormitory is delayed. Given MIT’s track record in this area, which includes the use of Tang Hall for temporary undergraduate housing, his concerns are unfortunately justified. Assistant Director of Planning Robert K. Kaynor says the impetus of the project is “a desire to provide more graduate housing.” We hope the administration shares Kaynor’s feelings regarding the conversion of the warehouse and does not again choose to use graduate students as pawns in a housing chess game.
The conversion of NW30 to graduate housing is a step in the right direction, but it is a small step. MIT must not let this project substitute for the planned dorm at Sidney and Pacific, and it must not use this project as an excuse to shift graduate students out of other dormitories to expand undergraduate housing capacity.