This summer, East Campus and MacGregor will be open for MIT undergraduate housing. This marks the second summer of MIT’s efforts to consolidate students into fewer dorms to reduce costs.
Baker, Burton Conner, McCormick, Senior House, and Simmons will all be used for programs and conferences organized by MIT, including the Women’s Technology Program, Research Science Institute, and Interphase.
The remaining undergraduate dormitories will be closed to occupants. New House and Next House will both be undergoing major scheduled repairs. The fire alarms and smoke detectors in New House are expected to be replaced, while Next House’s bathrooms will be renovated. Random and Bexley are being cleaned.
Summer housing decisions were primarily made by the Housing Strategy Group, comprised of administrators, graduate students, and undergraduates who are responsible for advising the dean for student life and dean for graduate education. Undergraduate Association President Vrajesh Y. Modi ’11, DormCon President Christina R. Johnson ’11, and DormCon Executive Vice-President Meagan A. Roth ’11 are the undergraduate representatives.
“This was definitely an issue where students had a voice through their representatives,” said Johnson. “We’re there to represent students and voice student concerns.” According to Johnson, conversations from the Housing Strategy Group meetings were brought up at DormCon meetings with the goal of identifying student concerns. Johnson said there were few complaints last summer — with the exception of concerns over storage — so “we went with our gut about what we thought worked well.”
When choosing which dorms would be available for undergraduate occupancy, the committee planned to have an option available on both west and east campus. Additionally, MacGregor and East Campus were chosen to provide kitchens for residents and to maximize the number of available singles.
This year marks the second consecutive summer that East Campus will be open for undergraduates. “Having East Campus open was our best bet,” said Johnson, who noted that a combination of factors had to be considered when determining how space could best be utilized.
Henry J. Humphreys, senior associate dean for residential life and dining, said that East Campus will still need to close for renovations in the future. “It’s not an if; it’s a when,” Humphreys said. East Campus repairs will likely focus on major work on the kitchens.
The dorms open for summer housing will continue to shift over the years. “We want to make sure the buildings are going to last,” said Humphreys. Closing dorms for the summer allows for essential maintenance that will extend the life of the building.
Between MacGregor and East Campus, there will be space for 600–700 students. Last summer, approximately 450 students lived in summer housing, a decrease from previous years that Director of Housing Dennis Collins believes was related to the change to consolidating students into fewer buildings. Collins believes the number of students utilizing summer housing should rise this year, partially due to the increased availability of kitchens.
Last summer, more students lived in East Campus than Next House — the other open dorm — which Humphreys believes was at least partially attributable to the greater number of kitchens. Since both MacGregor and East Campus have more widely available cooking facilities, Humphreys says students will likely distribute more evenly between the two. If MacGregor and East Campus are not fully occupied, it is possible that single floors will be closed for cleaning and repair.
Under the new consolidation system, decreased utility and staffing expenses reduce overall costs to maintain summer housing. Last summer, approximately $400,000 was saved in utilities and staffing costs, Collins said.
Closing dorms also allows for renovation on a scale that would not be possible while occupied. Last summer, nearly $5 million in repairs was conducted in the dorms that were closed for the summer — Bexley, Burton Conner, MacGregor, and Random.
Additionally, the separation of undergraduate housing and conference housing allows more advanced planning of summer conferences. Because entire dorms are dedicated for conferences and other programs with outside attendees, the space can be allocated years in advance. Previously, when undergraduates and conference participants were sharing dorm facilities, allocation of conference space depended on undergraduate usage.
Summer housing officially beings Thursday, May 26 and ends Saturday, Aug. 13.