By this fall, every dorm on campus will have a Residential Life Area Director (RLAD). Since the program began two years ago, each dorm has successively received one except for Senior House, home to some of the most vocal opponents.
Residents learned of this change Wednesday night in an email announcement from the Senior House Housemaster, Philosophy Professor Agustin Rayo PhD ’01. The RLAD will not live in the dorm at first; it is unclear when an apartment will be built for the RLAD to move in.
In the email, Rayo said that Wednesday was also the first time he was informed of the decision by MIT’s Division of Student Life.
Many Senior House residents have expressed frustration at the change, and some, like Senior House’s former president and Dormitory Council representative Alina Kononov ’14, plan to fight against it.
“This decision appears to have been made by DSL unilaterally, without a drop of consideration of all the discussion that took place two years ago,” wrote Kononov in an email to The Tech, referring to meetings that took place between Senior House and the DSL when the administration first considered implementing the program there.
She added, “I dread the prospect, and many residents are furious.”
No students or GRTs seemed to have had any advanced notice of this decision.
In a written statement to the The Tech, Senior House president Rodrigo Lopez Uricoechea ’16 said, “Many residents feel that we were left out of the decision making process, since we were merely informed of the final decision… In addition, residents do not understand what recent changes have prompted DSL to push for Senior House to get an RLAD.”
A common sentiment among students is that an RLAD is unnecessary for (and would even be detrimental to) Senior House.
“I think MIT could spend money on other things rather than a position that is already filled by other members of the house such as housemasters and GRTs,” said Senior House resident Jasmeet K. Arora ’17 in an email.
According to Rayo’s email, Henry J. Humphreys, senior associate dean of Residential Life & Dining, will be holding a town hall-style meeting to answer people’s questions. However, the date of the meeting, as well as whether an RLAD has already been selected, is currently unknown. In 2012, former Chancellor Eric Grimson PhD ’80 had told The Tech, “There will be student input — for example, when dorms get a new housemaster or GRT, they participate in the selection process, the same will go for the RLADs.”
In a 2013 article in The Tech, Humphreys said that the recruiting period for RLAD positions typically begins in March.
Some students have expressed concern over the timing of the announcement shortly before the end of the academic year.
“I also think it’s no coincidence that DSL waited until two weeks before term’s end to make the announcement,” stated Kononov. “If there is one thing DSL has learned about MIT culture over the years, it is how to attack the student body’s weaknesses.”
Resident Catherine Yunis ’16 said, “I would love to meet with the deans and discuss these changes but in two weeks the semester will be over, and then I will be gone for the summer until September.”
According to Kononov, the last time Senior House actively participated in discussions with DSL about RLADs was in early 2013. She emphasized, “At that time, we expected to engage in discussion about alternate solutions that would not involve live-in administrators, but no such discussions took place. Last night’s announcement was completely unexpected.”
Humphreys had not yet responded for comment at press time.