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DormCon overspends on already controversial overnight retreat

At a May 16 meeting of MIT’s Dormitory Council (DormCon), members were informed that the their annual retreat cost more than anticipated, by an amount not mentioned in the DormCon meeting minutes. The original budgeted cost for the retreat was $4000 — a figure that had already caused discontent among some undergraduates who felt the money would be better spent on events that directly benefit residents of each dormitory.

The overnight retreat was hosted at Endicott House, a meeting facility that has been the site of many student and faculty meetings and retreats in the past, including last year’s DormCon retreat. The 12 executive members of DormCon and the 11 dorm presidents were invited to attend, and each could bring one guest. These guests were dormitory vice presidents and underclassmen who wished to become more involved in DormCon. The purpose of the retreat, according to former DormCon President Edward A. Mugica ’13, was the “clarification of our goals and intentions” as an organization, as well as the facilitation of communication between members.

When asked about the unanticipated costs of the retreat, Mugica stated that a miscommunication between members of DormCon occurred, as well as “charges that we didn’t realize would come into play.” The combination of these caused the retreat’s total cost to far exceed the budgeted amount. Those making the decision, Mugica said, were unaware that the group would be charged for rooms that they did not end up using. As a result, the reservation was made for 35 people, only 19 of whom attended, according to Mugica. He said, “We were aware that there was a slight risk” of being charged, but that it was important that there be enough space should all invited members have decided to attend. When asked for specifics about the cost of the retreat, Mugica deferred to newly-elected DormCon President Eli H. Ross ’14, who said he did not know the figure, which was planned and budgeted for before he entered office. According to Endicott house’s student rates, the per-person charges amount to $5,530.

DormCon has decided not to return to Endicott House, and its executive members have agreed to explore less expensive options for future retreats. “There is a general consensus … that any future retreats will be on campus and at minimal cost. We want to put as much money as possible into inter-dorm and dorm-hosted events, which we believe are great ways to enhance campus life,” Ross said, adding that a revamped DormCon website will feature a line-item budget.

—Laura E. Forte