First years explore dorm communities through SCUFFY

SCUFFY community placement will not affect on-campus dorm placement

Support CommUnities For First Years (SCUFFY), an initiative to place first years in virtual dorm communities for the fall semester, held its dorm exploration and placement process Aug. 23–30.

SCUFFY is led by the Dormitory Council (DormCon) with input from the Office of the First Year, Undergraduate Residential Life, and Housing & Residential Services (HRS). 

Residential Exploration Chair Zawad Chowdhury ‘23 said in an interview with The Tech that DormCon created SCUFFY after MIT announced in July that first years who do not apply through the Student Housing Assistance Review Process would not live on campus. The SCUFFY website writes that participation in SCUFFY is “optional but encouraged” for first years. 

MIT’s ten dorms and the five cultural houses within New House held 173 virtual events for first years Aug. 23–30 in a period called Exploring Support Communities (ESC), including movie nights, game nights, and Q&A sessions. First years ranked their dorm preferences Aug. 26–28. 

Students were informed of their virtual dorm community placement for the upcoming semester Aug. 30. Shaida Nishat ’22, residential exploration chair, wrote in an email to The Tech that DormCon used an algorithm to “optimize” first years’ preferences for dorm placement.

Chowdhury wrote in an email to The Tech that 824 first years participated in SCUFFY. Of these students, 792 were placed in dorm communities and 32 in cultural houses. About one quarter of participating first years were placed in Maseeh, and about one eighth were placed in each of Baker and Next House. McCormick, MacGregor, and Random received the fewest first years, with under 50 students each. 

Chowdhury said that a first year’s placement in a dorm community “is not tied with housing at all” and does not affect where they will live on campus.

Dean of Student Life Suzy Nelson wrote in an email to The Tech that while “participants are not guaranteed” a housing assignment into their SCUFFY community, first years will be able to rank their residence hall preferences in a separate HRS form and “HRS will make every effort to assign first-year students to one of their top residence hall preferences.”

Nelson wrote in an email to The Tech that with “the guidance of committed upper-level students,” SCUFFY will allow first years to “learn about residential community life at MIT and start developing connections that will last throughout their undergraduate residential experience.”

Beyond broader dorm assignments, SCUFFY will allow first years to recreate the experience of being part of tighter-knit dorm subgroup such as a floor or entry this fall.

Chowdhury said that first years are “not going to be just placed in a dorm,” but are also “going to be placed in a smaller community within a dorm.” This way, “each first year will have a very tight-knit group which they can interact with and where they can be welcomed.”

Several first-year students have found this sense of community to be valuable when starting MIT.

Denzel Segbefia ’24 said in an interview with The Tech that attending Masseeh’s SCUFFY events made him realize that, “I really like how the people in Maseeh are, [their] culture. I think they're a really nice group of people I'd like to surround myself with.”  

Shreya Reshamwala ’24 wrote in an email to The Tech that during ESC, she visited a Zoom room for a different dorm each day and “made sure that I visited most of the dorms which I was remotely interested in based on i3 videos.” 

“SCUFFY has definitely eased my online transition into MIT a little bit. I feel like having an online community to support me will definitely be beneficial to tackling the emotional isolation that comes with going to school online,” Reshamwala said.

Daisy Wang ’24 wrote in an email to The Tech that she attended eight SCUFFY events. “I chose the ones that looked interesting, fun, useful, or all of the above” and “played a couple games, attended a movie night, and asked questions in Q&As.” 

Wang wrote, “I am personally going to feel much more at ease knowing that I belong, even if temporarily, to a community during my first exposure to MIT.”