Students voice thoughts on proposed housing rate changes at Dormcon meeting
The proposed pricing system would set the flat rate at the price of a tier-2 single
Students expressed concerns regarding proposed changes to MIT's housing rates at a Dormcon general body meeting (GBM) Oct. 26. The meeting was attended by two members of MIT Housing and Residential Services (HRS), Dormcon representatives, and students.
The discussion focused on the potential implications of a proposal to create a unified pricing system for all dorm rooms, regardless of dorm amenities or room type. HRS stated that the rationale for this was to create a more equitable housing environment for all students.
The proposed unified pricing system would set the flat rate at the price of a tier-2 single, resulting in a net price increase for tier-3 dorm residents — affecting those living in Random Hall and in Next House doubles or triples. Senior Associate Dean of Housing and Residential Services David Friedrich said that “our closest peers that have the same commitment to [need blind financial aid] have a housing system that is one price.” He noted that issues of equity “were complicated.”
Student attendants at the GBM were engaged, asking Friedrich several questions about the proposal. A common thread repeated throughout the meeting was some low-income students' concern that the flat rate would strip them of the benefits that opting into tier-3 housing provided: students explained that "a lot of low income students choose lower housing options to get back money to send home. Some students are willing to make that sacrifice."
Another student added that they didn't "see why raising the prices is helping because it’s removing the option for [them] to choose a cheaper house so that [they] can work less [to support themself].”
Students expounded on potential consequences related to this point, with one stating that “this could incentivize a lot of students who are low income to consider cheaper off campus housing options… you’ve punted low income students into independent living groups and off campus apartments that are going to be more removed from campus given transportation.”
The differences in amenities among dorms led some at the meeting to raise questions about the fairness of a uniform pricing system. Friedrich shared that HRS is working on this issue: “we’re trying to level the playing field where there isn’t too much variation, [but] there will be a bit.” Some students felt that it would be best to wait until ongoing dorm renovations were completed, allowing for a fair assessment of the housing options available to students.
The meeting concluded with an encouragement for students to continue providing input through various surveys and forms. Students are encouraged to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for any further questions, and attend the bimonthly meetings with Housing Representatives. Students were also encouraged to contact Friedrich directly with questions or concerns.
The Tech plans to continue reporting on this issue in the coming weeks. To that end, students who feel strongly about this issue in any capacity can reach out to share their thoughts. Quotes and GBM summaries were taken from the Dormcon official meeting notes, which can be found here.