Disclaimer: Although I am a former member of DormCon, I do not speak for the organization and I have not consulted it before writing this piece.
MIT’s Dormitory Council is the only organization devoted solely to the interests of dorm residents on campus, and Maseeh’s departure means an additional 462 undergraduates no longer have a voice in this organization. Some argue that DormCon simply redistributes money to dorms and its own retreats. But in fact, the organization promotes campus-wide appreciation of every dorm, ensuring every DormCon-funded event welcomes every participating dorms’ residents, and standing up for undergraduates in dorm affairs. Although I’m biased, I believe that DormCon is one of the best voices for students and one of the most functional, efficient groups on campus. Leaving the group deserves more than a few minutes of discussion.
First of all, DormCon does a great job of coordinating CPW, Orientation, and other campus-wide activities. The organization makes sure that dorms get an even distribution of the limited number of REX events and limited number of dorm-centric early returns for dorm orientation events, and has done a great job. For example, not long ago, the administration attempted to reduce the length of REX, and DormCon led the fight to preserve orientation as a campus-wide welcome to new students. DormCon also helps fund traditions and new ideas during the semester, such as Piano Drop and Bad Ideas. Furthermore, the DormCon tax ensures that dorms all devote money to campus-wide events, and encourages cross-campus mixing and a reputation of friendliness.
DormCon is also critical to student self-adjudication. Judicial committees are a key element of students’ self-government, and DormCon’s JudComm is one place residents can go to settle their disputes without involving the administration. While not all problems are suitable for peer judicial mediation, not all problems are perfectly suited for administration settlement, and having a designated JudComm gives us another place we can go within the dorm. This framework gives dorms and students power and is a dangerous thing to abandon without replacement.
During the RLAD introduction, DormCon advocated student involvement, thereby ensuring that students would be able to participate in the process by which RLADs were chosen. DormCon also helped students contribute to the dining debate, encouraging more choices for meal plans and higher quality of food across all dorms.
Although the most recent budget had controversies, DormCon is still an excellent organization and has a history of student advocacy and engagement. Leaving DormCon removes a venue for students’ voices, and I do not believe that leaving the organization is the way to fix its problems.