3 of New House’s 6 houses will remain closed next semester

Displaced students to be housed at the Hyatt hotel

7512 new
House 2 of New House, closed due to water damage, stands with windows taped over.
Daniel Mirny—The Tech

Up to 140 MIT students will be given the option of moving into the Cambridge Hyatt Regency hotel for the fall semester, following a sprinkler pipe burst in New House.

The relocation plan was released two weeks after the July 12 rupture on the fifth floor of House 2 caused extensive flooding. House 2 experienced up to four feet of flooding, and Houses 1 and 3 also suffered severe water damage.

As part of the relocation, students will receive a free “Any 14” meal plan, which can be used for any combination of breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner at any MIT dining hall.

But most generous is the arrangement with the hotel Hyatt Regency, located on the western tip of MIT’s campus at a Tech Shuttle stop. MIT students who choose to move into the hotel will be placed in 400-square-foot doubles that contain MIT furniture — two dressers, two twin-size beds, and one desk, in addition to the hotel’s desk. Students will have access to the hotel’s pool and gym and will receive discounts at the hotel restaurant. The Hyatt will provide weekly cleaning services. Students will still be charged $4,060, the same price as a New House double.

Freshmen will be permitted to stay at the Hyatt, which will be considered an extension of MIT, and thus an exception to the rule that first-year students must live on-campus.

The plan does not come without caveats, though — students will have to do their laundry in New House, since the Hyatt does not have laundry facilities. Students will not be able to hold REX events at the hotel or access the conference rooms and ballroom.

Students may also choose to be assigned to Baker, McCormick, or MacGregor House on a first-come, first-served basis. They would then pay the rate of their selected residence hall, and be required to pay for a meal plan if the residence has a dining hall.

Before the plan was released, Trey Watts ’18, the New House Vice President, called upon the administration to consider the extensive impact that splitting up New House residents would have on students.

“Dispersing us among undergraduate at the cost of student happiness, sanity, performance, and overall well-being,” Watts said in an email to Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, Student Life Dean Chris Colombo, and Residential Life and Dining Dean Henry Humphreys. “While finding space in other undergraduate dorms may be more cost-effective, not only would the displaced students have their culture essentially stripped from them, but the culture and desires of the host dorm would also be infringed upon.”

Three cultural houses — Chocolate City, International Development House (iHouse), and Spanish House — have been fully or partially displaced by the damage.

Watts suggested the Hyatt as an off-campus housing option to explore, in addition to “currently vacant fraternity houses, apartment complexes, and graduate dorms with enough space.”

Humphreys told The Tech that the administration quickly took graduate housing and FSILGs off the table. Freshmen would not have been allowed to live off-campus in FSILGs, and there was no permanent space in graduate dorms such as Sidney-Pacific.

According to Humphreys and Director of Communications Matt Bauer, MIT has not had to put students up in hotels in recent memory, while other colleges in the area, including Boston University and Northeastern, have housed students in the Hyatt numerous times before. The Hyatt was “very accommodating” to MIT’s predicament, Humphreys said.

The administration has received a preliminary timeline for New House repairs, but it has not been made available as of August 5. In the interim, students’ items and furniture that were stored in New House have been moved into Metropolitan Storage at no cost.

Going forward, the Department of Student Life will set up a webpage to keep affected parties in the loop and rely on student leadership, in addition to New House RACs and the Housemaster Wesley Harris, to relay information down the chain.

In the event that repairs finish early, the plan to transition students back to New House is “not absolute,” Humphreys said. He expects that all of the affected communities will contribute to the decision.

Students were asked to make a decision on their desired housing option by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 4. The Division of Student Life is currently determining how many students opted to stay at the Hyatt.

The list of rooms at the Hyatt has yet to be determined.

Watts, who is a member of the displaced cultural house Chocolate City and will be staying in the Hyatt, expressed some of his concerns for the fall to The Tech. “The biggest concern, honestly, is that the Hyatt is pretty far away from campus. It is the best option, but the distance does bother me a little bit.”

Watts was anxious about incoming freshmen. “This is very new and alarming for them,” he said. “We’re working towards holding REX events throughout the semester, hopefully, to promote a sense of community.”

He also lamented losing Chocolate City’s common lounge. “One of the biggest things for us is being able to hang out in our study lounge. Having that lounge space taken from us is going to be a hassle.”

The administration is working with the Hyatt to set up Wi-Fi and common spaces for students.

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A almost 9 years ago

You know what would have made this much less of a problem? Not shutting down Bexley while simultaneously continuing to increase class sizes. Did you guys forget or are you just pandering to administration? "Guys don't shut down Bexley, it will be bad for MIT culture and for the future crowded students" "no guys, it'll be fiiiine you have a lounge!". Fools.

B almost 9 years ago

A: MIT had no choice but to shut down Bexley, it was deemed structurally unsound by the city of Cambridge. Even if they had made the financially irresponsible choice to renovate, it would be a massive project on the order of the Ashdown-Maseeh reno (I would guess worse, given the extent of the damage) and students would not be living there this coming semester.

Even the author of that horrible "poem" from the last edition acknowledges the reality of the situation.

Herms '87 almost 9 years ago

Compare B.'s comment 4 with the FSILG Village story and the Elegy poem.

_ Have MIT's "reserves" been adequate to cover MIT's own "maintenance needs"?

_ Did the expansion of "student life" capture funds that would otherwise have been spent on maintenance at Bexley or New House?

Sarabalis's hypothesis: Every time MIT hires more Student Life employees, a building crumbles.

How can MIT keep up with new construction if it doesn't hire far more Facilities Maintenance employees? "Cracks in the mortar" may go undetected -- as may cracks in the sprinkler pipes.

It's rumored that top management could soon be reversing the expansion of DSL and spending some of the funds on maintenance instead. Null hypothesis: MIT buildings keep crumbling faster than Harvard buildings. (I wouldn't bet on it.)

Perhaps Bexley died so that other dorms could live?

RAM almost 9 years ago

If MIT has one of the finest engineering schools, how is it that old and new dorm facilities are so often in sad shape? It would be a great practical exercise if the civil engineering students and faculty, among others, would study the various aspects of the Institute's physical plant including dorms, identify the main problems, and propose solutions. Make the site a big lab!

Kei almost 9 years ago

Real nice how they treated those West Campus kids. I'm sure the Bexicans would have appreciated an option like that to deliberate how to move forward as a community--or even that same amount of dialogue the New Housers got.

DSL ber Alles

Maxwell E. Quation almost 9 years ago

First Bexley. Now Next House. MIT is the finest engineering school with best faculty and students. But worst administration. $60K per year and the place is literally falling apart. Disgraceful. Let's face it. Some real changes are needed. Soon. MIT deserves better.