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Senior Housemaster Selection Amiss

The selection for the new Senior House Housemasters has stalled as the MIT administration has spent months making a decision.

The student/faculty housemaster selection committee nominated Walter R. Bender ’80, Executive Director of the Media Lab, and his wife Wanda, for the position in May.

But Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo has not approved the selection, which last week led resident Sari Canelake ’10 to organize a petition addressed to Dean Colombo and President Susan J. Hockfield. The petition expresses concern that a new housemaster has not yet been approved. “I feel we’re not being respected at this point,” said Canelake.

According to Canelake, a number of Senior House residents are worried that an interim housemaster will be appointed, and that the interim housemaster might harm Senior House’s culture.

Canelake and Senior House President Cody R. Daniel ’11 will meet with Dean Colombo on Thursday to discuss the matter.

There have been rumors that Dean Colombo declined the Benders, perhaps because Walter Bender does not have academic tenure at MIT. Colombo declined to comment on the Benders, but wrote in an e-mail, “I can inform you that the search for a tenured faculty member continues.”

Colombo later clarified that tenure was not a requirement for housemaster candidates, but a “strong preference” of the Institute.

Daniel said he was confused by the situation, since some dorms have untenured housemasters, including Random Hall, Bexley Hall, and Next House (with Colombo himself). Also, the Benders were cleared with the committee early on in the selection process. “I think that this rule about tenured faculty is really strange,” Daniel said.

Colombo wrote in an e-mail: “I had a discussion with the search committee about this strong preference early in the process.”

The selection committee began their search back in January 2009, after then-housemaster Henry Jenkins III announced his departure for the University of Southern California. By late May, the choice was narrowed down to two couples: Walter and Wanda Bender, and Professors Robert J. Silbey and Susan S. Silbey. Robert Silbey is a former Dean of Science and current Chemistry professor, and Susan Silbey is an Anthropology Professor.

A couple of days after both candidates were interviewed, the Silbeys sent in a resignation letter, leaving the Benders as the de facto choice for the housemaster position. In order to appoint the Benders as housemasters, however, Dean Colombo must recommend them to President Hockfield. He has not yet done so.

John A. Hawkinson, Jeff Guo, Robert McQueen

D’Amelio in Drug Program

Joseph D’Amelio, the former MIT Police Officer arrested for drug trafficking in March, was arraigned in Superior Court last Friday. A grand jury handed up an indictment charging D’Amelio and two co-defendants in mid-June, and both D’Amelio and his cousin Anthony Cristallo appeared and pleaded not guilty last Friday.

D’Amelio is no longer under house arrest, but is enrolled in a drug treatment in Weymouth, MA, under supervision of the court. The third defendant, Donald Smoot (no relation to the famed MIT Smoot of unit and standardization fame) was absent. Smoot is accused of FedExing the drugs from Florida to himself in Massachusetts, and then selling them to Cristallo, after distributing a price sheet to D’Amelio.

The trial for all three is set for Jan. 11, 2010, with pretrial appearance on Dec. 8, 2009, with their next routine court appearance on Aug. 19, from which D’Amelio is excused because of his drug treatment program.

John A. Hawkinson

W20 Barber Saga Continues

Sharon’s Hair, the new, on-campus full-service barbershop and styling salon, has opened its doors and is ready for business. The shop is located in the basement of the student center where the New Tech Barber’s once stood. Owner, manager, and barber Sharon Donovan has served the MIT community for over twenty years, working as a barber at the New Tech Barber. She is accompanied by fellow barber John who works on Mondays but will start working full-time in the fall.

Donovan plans to host a grand opening event later this year before the start of the academic year. The salon offers the same services as the New Tech Barber including haircuts, perms, waxing, colors, and highlights. Donovan plans to expand her business in the fall by offering nail styling, and special promotions like “finals week” haircuts.

Sharon’s Hair is open Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call the salon at their new number (617)-621-8577 or visit them in the basement of the student center, room W20-023.— Robert McQueen