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Clay Outlines Housing Plan with Ashdown Grads

By Danos Christodoulou

Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 held a meeting to discuss housing undergraduates in graduate student housing Friday, establishing two task forces to handle further planning.

Graduate students involved in the meeting said they were satisfied with the progress made thus far. “I think it was a very positive meeting,” said Shunmugavelu D. Sokka G, former president of Ashdown House and a member of the Graduate Student Council.

One focal point of the discussion was housing upperclassmen in graduate dorms. “We discussed a number of options for housing people from the undergraduate system, [and] one was housing seniors,” said GSC President Dilan A. Seneviratne. “We discussed some of the options, nothing in detail.”

Clay said that his goals were to eliminate crowding while preserving graduate student communities at the same time. He said that MIT would “do nothing that would undermine our goals for improving undergraduate education [and] residential communities, which includes the decision not to put freshmen in graduate housing for the crowding solution.”

Clay also said that moving undergraduates into Ashdown will be voluntary and he does not consider uprooting students to be a solution.

Concerned parties give feedback

Those most concerned with plans to use Ashdown House for undergraduates were pleased with the opportunity to give Clay feedback. “[Clay] proposed the solution by listening to everyone first,” said Terry P. Orlando, housemaster of Ashdown.

Clay proposed that the two groups will be formed under his direction. The first group will be a short term group: one that will meet over the next few weeks and will attempt to resolve the crowding issue. The short term group will be chaired by Clay himself and will include Matthew S. Cain ’02, president of the Dormitory Council, Jennifer M. Farver G, president of Ashdown House and co-chair of the GSC Housing and Community Affairs Committee, Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict, Dean for Graduate Students Isaac M. Colbert, Orlando, and another housemaster to be named.

“The long term group will be broader, i.e. it will have FSILG representatives, faculty committees, the chair of the faculty, as well as student leaders and plain faculty,” Clay said. “The thing ... is to have a committee that has a long range view so that issues that come up in the future ... will go to this committee.”

Mixed feelings about decision

Farver was pleased by the outcome of the meeting but expressed disappointment by the fact that undergraduates are likely to move into graduate dormitories. “We are disappointed that graduate student beds will be used to house undergraduates, but we are pleased that our concerns about disruption of graduate student communities have been heard,” Farver said.

She also raised concerns about the problems still facing graduate students. “There is still a severe shortage of graduate housing on campus,” Farver said.

“It was very productive and that was because it had more open discussion,” Senevirante said, “but it should have happened earlier before the e-mail went up.”

Regarding plans for the future, Clay said, “I reminded the group that we are adding housing, not subtracting. So next year there will be a new dormitory for undergraduates, Simmons, and a new dormitory for graduate students.”

He said that there would be 600 more beds for graduate students next year, subtracting the 150 or so that will be taken by undergraduates from the 750 that will be added by the 70 Pacific Street dorm.

“That’s not 750, but its not taking away, either,” Clay said.

Considering the project’s future, Clay said, “I don’t want to suggest it’s going to be easy because we will have to try to anticipate all of the moves and all of the ways people think about the issue and try to come out with something that works.”