MIT Senior House

I’ve been reading various posts on Facebook, reddit, and Medium about MIT’s recent announcement of a moratorium on freshmen in Senior House. The overwhelming majority of what I am reading is dissatisfaction with the MIT administration. Many feel this another step to squash the culture normally associated with east campus. I didn’t spend much time on that side of campus, so I won’t claim to understand that culture.

I do empathize with those who feel the administration is destroying the culture they hold dear. I understand what it’s like to have others make decisions that affect me without actually discussing the situation with me first, and it’s a terrible feeling. However, looking at the data presented, I completely understand the administration’s decision to take drastic actions.

Senior House has the lowest graduation rate of every dorm on campus. Over the past seven MIT classes (excluding 2016), the rates for Senior House are abysmal compared to the rate across all of MIT. Frankly, I’m surprised action was not taken sooner. The rates for all dorms is available at https://chancellor.mit.edu/data.

MIT Senior House
Four-year 83.7% 59.7%
Six-year 92.5% 78.1%
Incomplete (after 5-9 years) 7.7% 21.1%

The desire to maintain culture is important, but MIT is a university. Universities educate and graduate students. It is clear from these numbers that MIT is failing the students of Senior House.

We have a hemorrhage here. We can either apply a tourniquet now, or we can try to perform surgery while the patient bleeds out. The administration chose the tourniquet. That gives the community time to dig deeper, have open discussions, and try to find the best solution. Attempting to do this while bringing bringing in a new class of residents is simply asking for chaos.

I support the administration’s efforts, and I recognize a desire to maintain the culture of east campus. The administration cannot shield itself behind data, just as students and alumni cannot use “culture” as our only argument against the administration’s actions. We must all work together to solve this problem.

P.S. As a member of the Class of 2008 and resident of New House who graduated February 2009 (instead of June 2008), I fall into the six year category.