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Two Possible Crowding Solutions

The housing crunch has left MIT in a jam that cannot possibly be resolved without making at least some students unhappy. Presently, the administration is considering two plans to accommodate next year’s move to housing all undergraduates on campus: a “senior segue” initiative and donating space to sororities without houses.

The latter plan proposes that MIT’s two non-residential sororities, Alpha Epsilon Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta, could each be given a section of a graduate residence to use as a house. Though it sounds simple, it brings up a number of complicated details. If sorority members are given the choice to live in the “house” or to remain in their current dormitories, the plan may not go smoothly. Sorority members do not just have ties to their sisters, but also to their current dorm residences. Many may be reluctant to leave their friends for a new location. Sorority members have said that they might have enough support for the option under the right circumstances, but those may not be met. Considering the direness of the situation, would sororities be forced to move enough members into the “house” even if unwilling?

The plan would guarantee a group of people with common goals establishing a second community inside the dorm. It may ease the move, but it may also cause rifts between the two communities. Another question would be what to do after the crunch is solved. Would the sororities continue to live in the graduate dorms or would MIT help them locate a new house? It should be noted that finding separate houses for the two sororities right now would alleviate much of MIT’s housing woes without angering the graduate population.

The “senior segue” option would give seniors who wish to continue as MEng students the option of guaranteed housing in a graduate dorm. There are about 200 MEng students in each class, which would fit well with the current 150 person overflow presently. Since this program does not require a block of student participation, it would be much easier to manage and adapt to changing times. The program is also more credible for permanent installation than the sorority plan. It does, however, create an imbalance in the undergraduate dorms. MIT’s undergraduate residential policy is geared towards having an equal number of students from each class populate each dorm, a rarity that would be diminished by this program.

The Tech prefers the MEng plan, but recognizes that there may be better ideas yet unspoken. In addition, Sidney-Pacific would be the best venue for “senior segue” plan. While the apartment-style complex is unusual for undergraduate housing, the timing is impeccable. Since the dorm will open next year, this will not disrupt any previously established communities aside from those that the undergraduates would leave, and the plan might even allow new communities to be established more easily.