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GIR Comm. Ponders Diversity in Housing

By Marissa Vogt

At a recent meeting of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons, one of its members identified the campus housing system as a possible area in which to address the issue of diversity at MIT.

John R. Velasco G, another member of the task force, said that there was a document presented that reflected the opinion of one individual, whom Velasco declined to name, that “the classroom is not necessarily the place to address the issue of diversity.”

The document identified the housing system as an appropriate place to do so and suggested that a group be formed to look at that in specific. Velasco said that last summer each member of the task force summarized his or her understanding of the task force’s sentiments, but could also include personal opinions and commentary. He said that Robert P. Redwine, dean for undergraduate education, wrote about the issue of a diversity General Institute Requirement.

A person answering the phone at Redwine’s residence last night said he was unavailable.

“I have been told to expect a recommendation along the lines to convene a special committee to look at the way we do housing on campus,” said Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict at last night’s meeting of the Dormitory Council.

Several Dormcon members expressed concern during last night’s meeting about the possibility of such a task force being formed and leading to a radical change in the housing system. However, Velasco said he does not believe at this time that the GIR task force will include such a recommendation in its final report to the faculty in the spring. He said that any such recommendation “would have to be discussed more thoroughly than it has been discussed.”

Benedict said that he speculates that if a recommendation were to be made to convene such a task force, it would be convened by Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75. Benedict said that he expects there would be a “year’s worth of talks” to carefully consider what he called a “very long tradition at MIT.”

Clay said that even if a recommendation were made, it would not be certain that a new task force would be convened.

“I’ll have to wait and see what they suggest,” he said, but if it is an issue that could be addressed by the Housing Strategy Group, it could be referred to that committee. Clay convened the Housing Strategy Group three years ago to address “policy issues that come up in regards to housing operations,” for both undergraduate and graduate students, he said. Members of the strategy group include Benedict, Dean for Graduate Student Students Isaac M. Colbert, housemasters, and student representatives.