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Benedict Says MIT Has No Plan to Close Dorms

By Beckett W. Sterner


Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict said that he had no plans to close either Bexley or Random Hall in at least the next ten years, in response to a story published in The Tech on Sept. 24 [“MIT Plans New Dorm, Renovations”].

The story stated that MIT is “considering plans” to, among other things, close Random and Bexley in a few years. The plan, along with two variants, is detailed in Facilities’ and the Office for Student Life’s “Housing Strategies Interim Report,” but Benedict said that the plan was “all conceptual conversation,” and that he did not intend to implement the part about the dormitories closing.

The report was compiled by a committee of 31 administrators, students and facilities staff, including Chancellor Phillip L. Clay and Vice-President John R. Curry. The central recommendation of the report focused on the development of a new 600-bed graduate residence and made no explicit recommendation about either dormitory renovations or dormitory closings.

Part of the report sought to develop “scenarios for renewal and expansion” of MIT’s housing system, and the plan cited by the Sept. 24 story was one of three scenarios given.

Consulting Project Director Gordon King, who prepared the scenarios, said that the plans were intended to help the committee consider planning issues but did not reflect a firm timeline or ordering of events.

He said that the mention of closing Bexley and Random was tangential to the committee’s work, with the focus being on developing a new graduate dormitory and renewing the undergraduate dormitories.

Benedict said the scenarios were just part of MIT “planning to plan,” and do not represent any final decisions.

The timeline is “aggressive at best,” King said, and “how [the changes] can happen, when, at what cost, and with what participation of the students are really open questions.”

Benedict said that no definite planning can be done for the next six months to a year until designers can look at the feasibility of a new graduate dormitory.

Dorms face different futures

While MIT has no plans to close Random, Benedict said, the developer of the University Park area does have the option to build on the lot occupied by Random.

The developer has had this option for over five years, and Benedict said he has not heard of any plans to exercise that option in the near future.

Bexley, however, does not have similar external pressures, King said.

Benedict said that Bexley was also on the list of dormitories MIT was considering renovating, along with East Campus and Burton Conner.