Senior House to receive RLAD by fall despite residents’ opposition

RLAD to move into dorm after construction of apartment

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Alina Kononov '14 is a current Dormitory Council representative. She is actually a former representative, as well as a former Senior House president.

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.

Anonymous over 8 years ago

Baker had this problem with security this year. A lot of (bad) decisions were made and all without student input.

Anonymous over 8 years ago

sic semper tyrannis am i right?

Anonymous over 8 years ago

I am astounded at how little confidence this school's administrators have in the young adults it admitted into its program of study. I found, in my experience with Montessori schools, that if you set the bar high and presume students are capable, and treat them with confidence in their abilities, they will acquit themselves accordingly. This maneuver, and the episode at DU, suggest either that there is a Benjamin Button phenomenon at work whereby minimum competence and maturity is attained by the time a student is ready for graduation, or the administration of this school, by infantilizing this cohort of students, has shown itself to be inexcusably incompetent once again! .

MacGregor '13 over 8 years ago

For the record, the other dorms didn't have any say in whether we got RLAD's either. The decision was leaked over the summer in 2012. After that, students scrambled over the summer to participate in the interview process and make the RLAD's living arrangements as unobtrusive as possible, but we had no say in whether we would get an RLAD or what the RLAD's job description would be.

Anonymous over 8 years ago

I am not certain student input with DSL is very productive. My own interaction with DSL has been met with offhand dishonesty and an underlying disregard for contending viewpoints. Its current operation is beyond unfortunate and reflects very poorly on the Institute. When I meet with Senior Associate Dean Humphreys I do not feel I can trust the things he says, based on past observations of statements that are willfully misleading or blatantly false.

Anonymous over 8 years ago

It's rather sad that DSL is concerned with everything but student life

Anonymous over 8 years ago

Considering that DSL once told me that putting my cat down was the only way to get housing for the summer, I've not had a particularly high opinion of them or in their ability to have mutually constructive conversation.

J.K. Herms 87 over 8 years ago

You can update Wikipedia by using the edit link at "Massachusetts Institute of Technology", section 2.2 (Housing).

James Duyck over 8 years ago

1. Having an RLAD is really not that terrible. At least, I think "dread" is an overreaction.

2. They did at least make their intent clear to phase in RLADs at all dorms when they started the program.

3. That doesn't excuse them from not communicating properly and not giving students a decent chance to participate in the process of choosing an RLAD.

This happens around once a year. Since I was a freshman, there was the implementation of the new dining plan, RLADs, the new security system, the closure of Bexley, and now RLADs at Senior House. There are probably other issues more specific to dorms. I don't really disagree in principal with most of these, but they were all poorly communicated.

If the Dean of Student Life and Dean of Residential Life and Dinings's jobs include communicating to students, they consistently don't do their jobs properly. Someone should point out to the Corporation that they're not getting their money's worth.

Anonymous over 8 years ago

Once again DSL and DRL disappoint. I have personally been treated rudely by DRL staff. The lack of communication, deception, seemingly purposeful bad timing of decisions (end semester or summer) shows such disrespect for such bright, capable, and nice students. It seems the goal of these offices is to make MIT students' lives even more difficult. What a contrast with the academic side of the Institute. I'm a parent who has donated to MIT, but I'm considering sending my $ to a university that treats its students better i.e., like adults. Who supervises these offices? Pres. Reif, where are you?

Anonymous over 8 years ago

The admins had been talking about Senior Haus getting an RLAD next year since August. It was a poor move on the admins for waiting this long to formally announce it, but the fact that none of the residents were aware of this is baffling because I know this and I don't even live on campus.