Maseeh Hall Executive Council (MHEC) emailed the Dormitory Council (DormCon) last night to withdraw Maseeh from DormCon, citing budget-related and representation concerns. A 4-3 vote of Maseeh Exec passed the motion Sunday night. Previously, Bexley had been for years the only dorm not in DormCon, and it stopped paying its yearly $1,200 tax to DormCon in 2008.
“I’m very sad to hear that Maseeh has chosen to secede,” wrote DormCon president Edward A. Mugica ’13 in an email to The Tech. “The secession email sent to DormCon did not enumerate any specific concerns, so I am unable to respond to any such concerns.” DormCon has funded campus events that they believe benefit residents of all dorms, said Mugica, adding that DormCon has also helped fund events like Baker’s Piano Drop, Burton Conner’s DTYD, and Senior House’s Steer Roast.
“We hope that Maseeh … might consider returning to DormCon in the near future,” wrote Mugica, “and we further hope that other dormitories consider the positive impact their respective memberships in DormCon have had on their dormitory communities.”
Of Maseeh’s seven-member executive committee, president Clay V. Goggil ’14, vice president Keanu A. Delgado ’15 , parliamentarian Bruno B.F. Faviero ’15 (a Tech news editor), and voting member at large Austin D. Fathman ’15 voted in favor of seceding. Treasurer Joseph A. Abadi ’15, secretary Logan J. Mercer ’15, and freshman representative Maggie O’Grady ’16 (a Tech copy editor) voted against the motion. Maseeh’s full house government has 23 other members, and the dorm currently has a 462-resident capacity which will be expanding next academic year.
“It’s been a decision in the works since Maseeh was founded,” said Fathman. “The decision was made mostly by [Goggil],” said Delgado, who declined to comment further. Deniz Oktay ’16, a ground floor representative in Maseeh legislature, said that “exec talks about these issues,” not the broader house government.
“This is the first I’ve heard about the decision,” wrote Maseeh Housemaster Jack Carroll in an email to The Tech around 7:40 p.m. last night responding to an inquiry.
The decision was an abrupt one near the end of Sunday’s MHEC meeting. “We had about four minutes left at the MHEC meeting, and Clay, our president, brought this up out of nowhere,” said Brandon E. Avila ’16, one of Maseeh’s 2nd Floor representatives. Goggil then motioned for a vote, which was seconded, and then the motion passed 4-3. “At this meeting, it all happened within about 90 seconds,” continued Avila, saying he doesn’t know if the subject had been thoroughly discussed at other meetings previously. Avila doesn’t think members considered the implications of leaving DormCon, saying that “most of us thought it was a hasty decision.”
“[Goggil] told us that this was going to happen whether or not we voted for it because that’s in his capacity as president,” said Avila. “So the vote was sort of a formality, but he was ready for Maseeh to leave DormCon no matter what we had said.” Maseeh’s house constitution does not list this power specifically, with relevant sections saying only that the president meets and interfaces with parties external to Maseeh Hall” and “is an advocate for students in the dorm to the House Team, outside entities, etc.” The house constitution also only broadly states that MHEC “makes statements of executive intent to guide the dorm.”
Residents were informed by Goggil in an email yesterday evening. “Over $4,000 a year of your Maseeh taxes were being spent for other dorms in ways that did not benefit you, and this coupled with lack of advocacy for Maseeh residents from DormCon lead us to our decision to secede,” wrote Goggil.
“[The decision] has been a long time coming,” said Goggil. “The decision to secede from DormCon was thrown around even before my tenure [as Maseeh president].” After this semester, Maseeh won’t be a voting member of DormCon, said Goggil, but will continue to send a representative “to at least get the information they provide.”
The largest issue for Maseeh is DormCon’s budget, said Goggil. Each dorm pays a tax of $5 per resident, and DormCon reallocates the money. “Maseeh puts in a lot more money than any other dorm, and then that money is reallocated to other dorms for things like CPW events,” said Goggil. “It feels like DormCon just reallocates money from large dorms to other dorms, and my residents are paying for events that they don’t attend.”
“The only benefit [of being part of DormCon] I can see is that we get a thousand dollars for CPW,” said Goggil, pausing. “Whoop-de-doo.”
Concerns over the budget were discussed at the most recent DormCon meeting on April 18. “We can fund things that dorms would not be able to or want to fund themselves, like promoting cross-campus or cross-dorm events,” said Mugica, according to their meeting minutes. Small dorms have less money than larger ones, Mugica said, and “DormCon can help redistribute money to allow smaller dorms to do things effectively.”
According to the minutes, Baker president Andrea Gutierrez Marty ’14 said that the reallocation system is unfair to larger dorms, and Michael E. Plasmeier ’13 (also from Baker) added that the allocation is “arbitrary.” Additionally, “it is worrisome for smaller dorms to be living outside of their means by requiring outside funding to run their CPW events,” said Goggil. Mugica responded that some dorms with effective CPWs have difficulty funding them, and it’s advantageous to MIT as a whole if those dorms are funded. For example, Random Hall is a small dorm that has “a lot of people who like running events” and needs outside funding to support those events, said Random representative Jacob B. Hurwitz ’14. “CPW is supposed to be more about MIT than about individual dorms. The money should go to dorms which have people who want to run events,” continued Hurwitz.
CPW isn’t the only area of funding, DormCon treasurer Phoebe J. Whitwell ’15 pointed out at the meeting, citing Steer Roast as an example of an event that would not happen without DormCon funding, but “benefits the whole community.”
When the subject of secession from DormCon was broached at the meeting, Mugica advised the dorm representatives that “you should strongly discuss it with your entire dorm.”
Previous secessions from DormCon
Bexley Hall has been the only dorm without a representative on DormCon for decades and does not consider itself a member. Historically, Bexley does not have a house government, and it stopped paying the yearly $1,200 tax to DormCon in Fall 2008.
“Mostly we were quite disappointed when we found out we wouldn’t be funding the yearly DormCon retreat, which is an integral event for the MIT undergraduate community,” said Bexley resident Kristjan Eerik Kaseniit ’14 sarcastically. “[W]e simply can’t figure out what to do with the money from house taxes on our own.” Essentially, Bexley isn’t “missing anything” from not being on DormCon, Kaseniit said.
Dormitories have considered leaving DormCon before, for various reasons. In December 1976, Burton House, Baker House, and MacGregor House threatened to secede from DormCon to form a “West Campus alliance,” citing policy differences.
Jessica J. Pourian and Stan Gill contributed reporting.