New Vassar scheduled to open January 2021

Burton-Conner to undergo renovations starting Spring 2021 and reopen Fall 2022

Burton-Conner (BC) will undergo renovations starting in Spring 2021. New Vassar (NV) is scheduled to open in January.

BC was originally scheduled to undergo renovations June 2020 to August 2022. Senior Associate Dean for Housing David Friedrich wrote in a statement to The Tech that despite the delay in starting renovations, “the project timeline is on track and the building is targeted to reopen for the fall 2022 semester.”

“During the fall 2020 semester, Burton Conner has served a vital purpose as support housing for members of the MIT community who test positive for COVID-19 and must isolate or who require a temporary quarantine accommodation,” Friedrich wrote.

NV is scheduled to open in January 2021. Friedrich wrote that “members of the New Vassar Founders’ Group convened earlier this month to continue community planning efforts for MIT’s newest undergraduate residence.” The NV Founders’ Group includes students, staff, faculty, and the NV House Team.

BC President Sarah Aaronson ’23 wrote in an email to The Tech that the BC student government “has been bringing in new first-year students through the SCUFFY [Support CommUnities For First Years] and ESC [Exploring Support Communities] programs as well as advising the plans for the upcoming renovations.”

Aaronson wrote that “most of the work for planning transitions [for BC students] happened during the Spring 2020 semester. Policies such as staple groups for the switch lottery and different priorities for BC residents in the switch lottery, however, are no longer relevant because of COVID-19.” 

She wrote that the only ongoing planning “is working with DormCon Housing Chairs to ensure that the housing lottery for the spring is satisfactory to BC residents along with other dorm residents and students.”

Aaronson also wrote that “while BC residents might rank New Vassar highly because there are more spots,” NV will not function as a “swing dorm” or provide any “specific alternate service for BC residents specifically.”

The Housing and Residential Services (HRS) website states that “it is important for New Vassar to have its own identity, so the community will not serve as a ‘swing’ dorm in the short or long term.” The website writes that “being a swing dorm would be disruptive” to NV establishing “a house identity and cohesive spirit if a large number of spaces are reserved for another residence hall that functions independently from New Vassar.”

Friedrich wrote that HRS “continues to work closely with members of the Burton Conner Transition Team to help preserve the residence hall’s vibrant history and to support the community during the transition period.” 

Aaronson wrote that “prior to COVID-19, BC residents were slated to have access to the Coffeehouse Lounge for most of the time to hold small floor events as well as use spaces like Lobdell for our larger, campus-wide events.” Support has also come “in the form of providing storage for suite and floor belongings” as well as the digital preservation of the dorm’s murals.