MIT to limit summer housing options

Most dorms will be closed to undergraduates this summer

MIT plans to close most dorms to undergraduates over the summer, according to Dormitory Council President Abdulaziz M. Albahar ’10. The change from keeping all dorms open to undergraduates, as in past years, should save MIT about $500,000, Albahar said.

Of those dorms closed to undergraduates, some will be used by other groups that stay at MIT over the summer and others will close completely, Albahar said. Some of the closed dorms will undergo renovations.

The Housing Strategy Group, chaired by Dean for Student Life Costantino Colombo and Dean for Graduate Education Steven R. Lerman, has taken on the task of determining which dorms will house undergraduates, which will serve outside groups, and which will close. The group must complete its work before spring break starts in late March because summer housing applications are due March 22, said Albahar, who is also a member of the group. He does not know exactly when the decisions will be released.

The other undergraduate representatives in the Housing Strategy Group are Dormitory Council Vice President Lyla J. Fischer ’11 and Undergraduate Association President Michael A. Bennie ’10.

The idea to consolidate most undergraduates in a couple dorms is a recommendation from the Institute-wide Planning Task Force Report, released in mid-December last year. The report suggested “defragmenting the use of dorms so that they are either fully used by our students, by MIT programs or outside programs, or are closed to residents other than year-round residents, such as GRTs and housemasters.” This recommendation was made because “housing utilization during the summer is low, particularly in undergraduate dorms.”

MIT Housing has already made recommendations to the Housing Strategy Group about which dorms it thinks ought to house undergraduates, shut down, or open to others. The Housing Strategy Group’s job now is to evaluate those recommendations. They are soliciting feedback from dorm presidents, and Housing is collecting input from dorm housemasters, said Albahar.

The decisions will take into account how many students have stayed in each dorm during previous summers, as well as which dorms need renovation, Albahar said.

Care will be taken to ensure that any work that gets done on dorms during the summer improves the dorms, does not remove any of their amenities, and preserve elements of dorms that contribute to their culture, including murals, kitchens, and lounges, said Albahar.

Albahar also said that Housing has agreed to provide students with free transportation for several days for while moving between dorms at the start of the summer.

He said that students granted early return to dorms, which are closed for the summer, will still be able to move back in early August. Dorms will also be stricter in preventing students without early return from moving back in.

He also said that storage space will likely be inadequate to fit the possessions of all the students moving out of closed dorms during the summer. He said this issue will probably have to be addressed on a dorm-by-dorm basis but may also involve MIT Housing contracting a local storage company to provide extra space.

“It seems very likely that there will be a system to allow people to block together, as both students and the administration see this as a positive feature of summer housing,” wrote Bennie in an e-mail to the UA Senate mailing list, which is open to the public.

“What we’re trying to do over the next month is minimize damage to students...[and] to make the decision that’s best for [their] comfort and convenience,” said Albahar.

Dean Colombo and Senior Associate Dean Barbara A. Baker of the Division for Student Life could not be reached for comments yesterday.