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EC’s East Parallel Closed for the Summer

By Ray C. He


This summer, the east parallel of East Campus will be closed for renovations. Those renovations include the replacement of asbestos tiles and bathroom flooring, possible replacement of carpeting, and limited painting, said Director of Housing Karen A. Nilsson.

The purpose of the summer renovations is to improve conditions at EC for the short term until a complete renewal is possible.

“In the long term, a lot of the systems in East Campus, a lot of the buildings need full renovations,” Nilsson said. “I cannot even begin to guess when that will happen,” but “it does need to happen in five, ten years,” she said.

Asbestos tiles to be replaced

“The reason we're closing down the whole east parallel is to do asbestos abatement,” Nilsson said.

Currently, the asbestos used in the tiling at East Campus is “not a problem,” Nilsson said. “There is nowhere in East Campus where students are in danger because of asbestos... If it’s not airborne, it’s not dangerous at all.”

The tiles are being replaced because they are cracked and old, Nilsson said.

“We’ve had a few occasions when we noticed students have left and we’ve noticed there’s been a problem, we’ve closed the room, and fixed it.”

Murals preserved

Painting plans generated concern amongst EC residents regarding the preservation of the artwork and the atmosphere of the dorm.

“The biggest concerns EC has are we don’t want to see the murals destroyed, we don’t want to see rooms with excellent paint jobs or murals painted over, and we don’t want to see any of our hall property broken or stolen,” said Emily E. Cofer ’04, outgoing vice president of East Campus.

The executive committee of EC has met with Nilsson and the housing office to work out these issues.

“Our plan is not to paint over the murals, it’s to paint around the murals,” Nilsson said. “We’ll cut around it, we square it off and paint the other areas.”

The renovations will only paint over murals that residents specify. “We've also said to the house, please look over your murals. There may be some that people have started and haven't finished, and there may be some that you feel aren't part of the culture,” she said.

Additionally, “if there are any murals that the house government feels are incomplete or damaged, we’ll paint over them,” she said.

The housing office will not repaint the center of fifth east, known as “Black Bemis,” which is completely black. “Our plan is not to paint Black Bemis institute white,” she said. “If there are areas they want painted, we’d be happy to talk to them about it.”

“They’re making an awesome effort to make sure that our art concerns are being addressed and handled well,” Cofer said.

In addition to allowing houses to select the murals that will be kept, the housing office is deferring the decision on keeping carpet or replacing it with tiles to the EC house government, according to Nilsson.

“We can take out the carpet and put new [vinyl tetrachloride] tile down if they prefer to have tiles,” Nilsson said. “It’s easier to maintain hallways that aren't carpeted,” but the housing office is working with the floors to determine preferences.

Students can stay in west parallel

East parallel students staying on campus over the summer will be allowed to stay in the west parallel, rather than be forced to stay in another dormitory, Nilsson said. They will be able to move back into their rooms in the east parallel when renovations there are complete, she said.

To accommodate the summer housing students, summer programs that have traditionally been in EC, such as the Research Science Institute and Interphase, will not be housed there this year, she said. “Priority will be for MIT East Campus students who want to live in East Campus.”

There are usually 120 to 140 students from the east parallel who enter the housing lottery.

Renovations part of larger plan

While many renovations will be completed around campus, “EC will have the most extensive renovations this summer,” Nilsson said. “They have the most need.”

Part of the difficulty of a full renewal comes from the large number of students who would not have housing if the building were drastically renovated. “We cannot displace 400 students,” she said. “There would have to be another building built on this campus” before “we can renovate.”

The costs for the renovations have not yet been calculated, Nilsson said. “We’re really in the beginning planning stages,” she said.