Crowding Numbers Reduced
MIT Lowers Goals For Senior SegueBy Jessica Zaman
At a meeting Wednesday administrators and Undergraduate Association leaders came to an agreement that the Senior Segue would remain open until 100 students had applied, down from the original goal of 140.
Administrators also announced that approximately 240 upperclassmen would be housed in Simmons Hall next year. Dormitory Council President Matthew S. Cain ’02 said that this number represented an even mix from the classes of 2005 to 2003, but the dormitory would have an additional 100 freshmen.
The move will also cause an imbalance of freshmen in dormitories where moves to Simmons were concentrated, such as MacGregor House and Next House.
Administrators remain confident that all conflicts will be resolved before next fall. “We had a rough opening,” said Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict, who attended the meeting. “Simmons Hall has done an excellent job recruiting upperclassmen. The new graduate dormitory, Sidney-Pacific, is on track to open. Considering the mix of sorority women and the rising seniors that will be relocated to graduate housing and the number of incoming freshmen, we should be able to accommodate everyone. We hope to solve overcrowding issues by next fall.”
Senior segue comes up short
However, in response to receiving only 71 transfers to graduate dormitories through the segue plan, including the sisters of Kappa Alpha Theta, the deadline for juniors interested in applying to the program has been extended.
Sanith Wijesinghe G, incoming Graduate Student Council president, said that the deadline has been extended to next Saturday. However, there are other estimates of the exact closing date. He expected the lottery to remain open until 100 slots are filled, even if the deadline must be further extended beyond Saturday.
In order to attract more seniors next year, Wijesinghe said that MIT will offer singles to residents who apply.
Moves shift balance of classes
The class distribution in campus housing caused by the moves to Simmons and graduate dormitories may affect dormitory life, say some student leaders.
“The number of freshmen in some dormitories will be heavy,” Cain said. “MacGregor and Next House will be the hardest hit. A lot of people are moving to Simmons and to graduate dormitories.”
“We don’t know how the system will react yet,” said outgoing UA President Jaime E. Devereaux ’02. However, she hoped that moves to fraternities and more on-campus transfers “may alleviate some of the pressure.”
Devereaux estimates that the percentage of freshmen at hard-hit dormitories could approach 40 to 50 percent.
Meeting attendees optimistic
Many of the student leaders who attended the meeting also felt that the overcrowding problems could be solved. “Uncomfortable crowding should be eliminated even by the numbers we have now,” Devereaux said.
Devereaux, Benedict, and others are adamant that the crowding situation will not lead to crowded MacGregor lounges or quintuples in Baker House and New House.
Graduate students will also be getting 650 more beds, Benedict said, despite the Senior Segue. “Even with 100 graduate spots being filled with undergraduates, graduate students will see a significant increase in housing opportunities” because of new construction, Benedict said.
Simmons GRTs announced
While many current students know they will be living in Simmons next year, preparations for the dormitory continue. Graduate Resident Tutors have been selected, and the exact number of MIT students moving to Simmons Hall is being finalized.
Three of ten Simmons GRTs are currently associated with other MIT dormitories. Susan M. Dacy G, Tamara S. Williams G, and Robinn N. Chapman G are from Burton Conner, McCormick Hall, and New House, respectively. Seven other GRTs were chosen from a pool of applicants submitted to the office of Residential Life and Student Life Programs by a special Simmons committee. The other GRTs include Keith A. Bonawitz ’02, Kevin R. Lang ’02, Todd P. Coleman G, Sheila N. Tandon G, Mario Valenti G, and Xiaomin Mou G.
“According to recent estimates, Simmons Hall will be housing 241 current MIT students,” said Denise A. Vallay, manager of undergraduate residential services. “There are a total of 341 spaces open.” The remaining spots will be designated for incoming freshmen.
Despite the imbalance of freshmen, those working on Simmons planning for the fall are happy with the results. “We were successful in attracting more than our original goal of 225 upperclassmen,” said Ross E. Benson ’03, chair of the Simmons Steering Committee Chair. “I think we got a lot of people who wanted to live with their friends and create their own community.”
Members of the committee are now busy working on several other issues regarding the dormitory. Benson said the committee is now drafting a constitution, meeting with the Athletics Department to work out a plan for a pathway through the field to improve access to Amherst Alley, and working on dining and rooming issues. Students are also working on details of a visiting scholars program. Faculty members will be invited to live in the dormitory and participate in the dormitory’s community by giving lectures on both academic and non-academic issues.
New lottery system implemented
A new lottery system has increased efficiency of house-to-house switches, Vallay said. “Ninety-seven percent of 396 house-to-house switches received their first choice,” she said, while last year only 60 switches were made. However, this move did not include the moves to Simmons.
Tony Gray, a current MIT Residential Life Associate, was responsible for writing a new algorithm for dealing with the situation. Vallay said Gray’s algorithm automates many procedures that were originally dealt with manually.
KAT moves to Sidney-Pacific
“Approximately 20 to 25 sisters of the KAT sorority will be moving to the new graduate dormitory, Sidney-Pacific, next fall,” said Sheila Viswanthan ’02, KAT president. This number fit with initial administration plans.
KAT is one of two sororities without permanent housing. “Everything has been going really well,” Viswanthan said. “We’re really happy with the way the administration has been helping out. We will be living in one cluster in the dormitory.”
A few issues are still under consideration. “We will see if we can get our own GRTs. Rates will be comparable to current undergraduate housing fees,” Viswanthan said.
However, one KAT sister, Jennifer Ying ’05, planned to move to Sidney-Pacific but was deterred. “I contacted members of the house government about being involved in a leadership position. However, I was told that they were only available for graduate students.”