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Letters to the Editor

Misguided Regulations 
Help No One


The Tech recently published a story [“GIR Comm. Ponders Diversity in Housing,” Nov. 29, 2005] regarding a possible diversity GIR. Although the discussion of how such diversity-inducing programs would be implemented was vague, it hinted at instituting “a radical change in the housing system.”

As seen with the recent change in McCormick Hall dining policy, “community building” programs often backfire [“Stewart Fails as Community Steward,” letter to the editor, Nov. 29, 2005] and simply create unnecessary student resentment towards those who otherwise provide useful guidance when students want it.

Moreover, increased regulation of student housing risks taking away what is quite unique to the MIT housing system, and to the greater MIT experience. When I first arrived at MIT, it was emphasized that all students were treated by MIT as responsible adults who could make their own decisions; happily, I have to come to learn that, in most cases, this is true.

Unlike many other schools, MIT gives us a great deal of control over where and how we live, from preference-based dorm assignment to the lack of narrowly focused meal plans. “Diversity” or “community building” should not be used as an excuse to diminish these cherished freedoms, which contribute greatly to student satisfaction with their living environment. A letter from past Dormitory Council presidents to President Susan Hockfield (http://web.mit.edu/dormcon/docs/alum-letter-march2005.pdf), although it deals with the overall housing system and not specifically with these proposed changes, expresses similar sentiments about the negative effects of administration-imposed policy on students’ happiness with housing. The administration should be careful “not to interfere with students’ opportunities to choose a living community that best fits their preferences.”

Please don’t fix what isn’t broken. The administration has excellent resources that it can, and often does, use to improve our academic and social well-being. Maybe resources spent on developing unnecessary regulations could be better used to develop policies that would reduce tuition for all MIT students, including those who do not receive aid. I can’t think of any student who would oppose that.

Advay V. Mengle ’09