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MIT May House Sororities In Graduate Dorm for Fall

By Jennifer Krishnan


Members of MIT’s two unhoused sororities may be living together as early as next fall in a graduate dormitory as a solution to next year’s anticipated housing crunch.

Associate Dean for Student Life Programs Barbara A. Baker has approached representatives of Alpha Epsilon Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta about the possibility of giving the sororities some rooms in a graduate student dormitory.

While nothing is set in stone yet, Jennifer A. Farver G, president of Ashdown House and a member of the group working on specific solutions for decrowding, said if this plan is implemented, each sorority would most likely “get a contiguous block of rooms in a graduate dormitory.”

AEPhi remains undecided

Karen H. Riesenburger ’03, president of MIT’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Phi, said reactions among members of her sorority have been mixed.

“It would be nice to have a common space that is ours,” Riesenburger said. She noted that potential for “more bonding between members, because it would be easier to see everybody all the time.”

Living as a community within a graduate student dormitory also has some advantages over living in a house, Riesenburger said. Members of the sorority would “be a bigger part of the MIT community” than if they were not living on campus.

Additionally, she said, they would not have “the responsibility of caring for a house.”

However, Riesenburger said, many concerns remain. She and her sisters are still waiting to hear which dormitory is being proposed as their new home, as well as the number of people who would be expected to move. Both of these factors could influence their decision on whether or not to take the placement.

Moving sorority members into communities within graduate dormitories “supports the FSILG system in the long term,” Farver said. “The goal is to give them the opportunity to live together for several years ... and eventually get a house” of their own.

In 1995, 45 members of Sigma Kappa moved into Ashdown House, occupying the basement and part of the first floor. When the sorority acquired its own house at 480 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, the space in Ashdown was returned for graduate student use.

‘Senior Segue’ another option

Another option being investigated by the working group is what they call the “Senior Segue” plan, Farver said.

If the Senior Segue plan is implemented, seniors planning to pursue an MEng degree would have the option of moving into a graduate student dormitory their senior year and would be guaranteed housing in the same dormitory the following year.

“The incentive would be that they wouldn’t have to go into the [housing] lottery,” said Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict.

Under the current system, MIT seniors planning to pursue a graduate level degree at the Institute and seeking housing must enter the housing lottery as continuing students. This reduces their chances of receiving housing and eliminates the possibility of living in Tang Hall or The Warehouse, both of which house only first-year graduate students from outside MIT.

The Senior Segue plan is “open to a lot more students” than the sorority plan, Farver said.

Additionally, seniors will “more or less fit in if they want to,” she said. “Instead of being a subcommunity, the seniors would really be participating in the community.”

Farver added that additional “monetary incentives are unlikely since undergraduates’ rent is already lower than” what graduate students pay.

Benedict said the graduate students in the working group considered the Senior Segue and the sorority plan “the most desirable of the least desirable outcomes.”