Burton Conner discusses transition in community meeting

Residents express concerns about housing, meal plan, culture preservation

Members of the Burton Conner transition team held a community meeting March 4 to discuss the housing timeline for residents, as well as concerns about subscribing to the meal plan and preserving groups of BC residents in new spaces.

David Friedrich, senior associate dean for housing and residential services, and Judy Robinson, senior associate dean for residential education, BC heads of house, and BC president Sarah Aaronson ’23 were at the meeting, along with other members of the BC transition team.

BC is scheduled to be closed for renewal June 2020 and to reopen August 2022, according to the transition FAQ.

Friedrich guided discussion at the meeting, which focused on the housing lottery and potential switches to the meal plan. After statements by Aaronson, Friedrich, and Director of Campus Dining Mark Hayes, BC residents posed questions about transitioning.

Hayes presented changes in the meal plan that could become relevant to residents moving to dining hall dorms during the transition. Because BC is a cook-for-yourself residence hall, residents expressed concern about being required to pay for the meal plan if they chose to move to a dining dorm.

Robinson said that the Division of Student Life would work with Student Support Services and Student Financial Services to address financial concerns on an individual basis.

Alex Quach ’23, BC treasurer, wrote in an email to The Tech that he “and many other residents are actively avoiding dorms with dining halls” so that they do not have to be “coerced into the larger meal plan.” He wrote that the mandatory meal plan might prevent BC residents from moving to dorms whose cultures they fit well with.

In an interview with The Tech, Aaronson said that BC residents were concerned about the meal plan requirements. She added that “people tend to stay in cook-for-yourself dorms longer, so there probably won’t be all the spaces that we need, especially with New Vassar being a dining dorm. The numbers don’t work out.”

The housing switch lottery will be open March 9 to March 23. The results of the lottery will be sent to students April 6. BC residents will have priority in the housing lottery over students switching from other dorms and first years in the Class of 2024.

Friedrich said that BC residents will be allowed to request moves in groups of up to eight people, compared to the typical group of four. In addition, two groups of eight people can indicate connection, so that housing assignment staff can work to move that larger group to the same residence.

Aaronson told The Tech that because BC culture is closely tied to its nine floors, “some are worried about losing physical access to people they’ve built strong ties to and are comfortable with” through the renewal. 

Once BC residents are placed in new residence halls, room assignments will be determined according to internal house processes. Students who are switched to New Vassar will be able to self-select their rooms from April 13 to April 16.

Aaronson said that internal room assignment processes have been discussed with leadership of other dorms during DormCon meetings. She added that dorm presidents should have the specific plans for moving into their residences available at the March 5 DormCon meeting.

Friedrich said that BC residents moving off campus during the transition would “be absolutely guaranteed to return” after the renovations.

Both Aaronson and Quach identified preservation of community as an important goal during the renewal. Aaronson said to The Tech that she is “really interested in having a continuity of community during and after transition” and hopes to establish spaces and funding for BC community events even while the building is under construction.

Quach wrote that he is “concerned about the amount of funding BC will have during its transition.” 

“Having the funding to be able to hold Burton Conner and campus-wide events… is important to preserve our culture and a worthy investment for MIT to provide during the transition process,” Quach wrote.

Aaronson said during the meeting that two resident-led committees were being created for the transition process, one to help document existing BC murals and another to manage the storage of community items. Three types of storage will be available: summer storage, short-term storage that can be accessed during the renewal period, and long-term storage to be stored until the reopening of BC.

These committees will be determined March 18. The mural preservation selections are due in early May and storage will be finalized in late May, according to a transition calendar passed out at the community meeting.

Members of the New Vassar founders’ group were also present at the community meeting so that BC residents could ask about moving into the new residence hall.

Residents with questions or concerns about the transition process can email