Relocated New House students debate opportunity to reside in Senior House next year

MIT Housing maintains that New House students will not take away spots from returning Senior House residents

Conflicting claims about the re-allocation of beds in Senior House next academic year has created confusion for New House residents as they debate whether or not to accept MIT Housing’s offer to move to Senior House.

Two weeks ago, MIT Housing offered New House houses Desmond, iHouse, and La Casa the opportunity to move together to E2 for the 2017-2018 academic year, during which the dorm will undergo renovations. iHouse was set to move within New House, Desmond to be split up, and La Casa to move as a unit to MacGregor.

The initial offer was made via June 13 emails to each house’s leadership. iHouse and Desmond both declined. The offer was then extended in emails Monday to individual members of those houses, as well as to members of House 2, who had previously been relocated to other dorms. Decisions are expected by the end of the week.

In both communications, Jennifer Hapgood-White, associate director of housing assignments, maintained that the number of Senior House residents accepted during the re-application process would not be affected by New House residents moving in.

“All former Senior House residents whose applications are successful will be guaranteed space in Senior House,” Hapgood-White wrote in a response yesterday to New House residents’ questions. Instead, “the number of New House residents placed temporarily in Senior House will affect the number of spots available to first-year students” moving in as part of Pilot 2021.

In the same email, Hapgood-White wrote that “residents of the [E2], including any Senior House residents who are approved to return, will get to choose their own culture and governance.”

In a June 18 email urging New House residents to not move to Senior House, dorm president Sabrina Madera ’19 and East Campus resident Tesla Wells ’20 claimed that administrators have “heavily, heavily implied that NH residents will receive however many beds they want, and the pool of SH accepted to return will be capped by the remaining number of beds.”

In a phone interview with The Tech, Kim Haberlin, senior communications officer for the chancellor, said it was “unlikely” that anyone from the administration had sent any emails to that effect.

New House and Senior House leadership later sent a joint statement to New House residents, backtracking from the previous email: “Moving forward, both leaderships want to stress the importance of letting individual houses make their decisions on whether or not they want to move into SH, without pressure or guilt.”

In an email last night to The Tech, Haberlin wrote that “we will take a conservative approach to the bed numbers we assign to first-year and New House students in order to honor the guarantee we are making to Senior House students whose return applications are approved.”

What this conservative approach may entail, or what the criteria for the applications are, remains unclear. According to Hapgood-White, Housing has “started to discuss with Senior House residents the criteria we are considering for the application process, but we aren't ready yet to expand these conversations beyond Senior House, UA, and Dormcon.”

Haberlin confirmed over a phone interview that there is no pre-determined cap on how many Senior House residents will be allowed to return to their dorm, but emphasized that it will be a very selective process.

No New House residents, beyond the 15 that had arranged to move in prior to the announcement of Pilot 2021, have been confirmed as residents of Senior House next year.