MIT has a Delta House and now the school aims to remake it

Cambridge Day reports MIT is going to try to turn Senior House, a freewheeling dorm with art on the walls, cats everywhere and "an eclectic assortment of students who may be low-income, first-generation, black, Asian or Latinx or LGBTQI" - and a traditionally low graduation rate - into a place where the emphasis is on mental health, physical fitness and learning how to cook one's own meals. Also: No cats.

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    Low Graduation Rate

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    In other words, drown the bunnies by taking away the community that they can afford to live in. Never mind that most do graduate - just not in the 4 year window valued by the Taylorizing moron administrators.

    More neoliberal love from your statfellating overlords.

    MIT mostly knows engineering

    By on

    Engineering alone isn't enough to understand and lead people.

    MIT should be looking for students with a diversity of experiences and perspectives, not further homogenizing into cookie-cutter vanilla Stanford milquetoasts who've been herded towards the top universities by affluent parents.

    And with all the gobs of money MIT gets, they can afford to accommodate the various needs of their individual students.

    Whut!?

    By on

    No cats?!!

    Cats rule! (at least they do at my house - and they know it)

    MIT is going to try to turn

    By on

    MIT is going to try to turn Senior House - a dorm with -a traditionally low graduation rate - into a place where the emphasis is on mental health, physical fitness and learning how to cook one's own meals.

    HOW DARE YOU EXPECT MIT STUDENTS TO BECOME ADULTS!

    What's next? Expecting them to shower and obtain employment to repay their loans?

    You know nothing about this

    Obviously.

    Most of my Senior House friends were people like me - students who were paying their own way through MIT - which was still possible in the late 1980s.

    What part of "person paying own way is an adult" that you can't seem to fathom?

    The reality is that these kids are NOT coddled - in fact, their "failure" to graduate "on time" often stems from their inability to magic money out of deadbeat parents and the world at large, meaning that they have to have near-full time jobs to make ends meet.

    Meaning that it may take them longer to graduate. boo fucking hoo.

    Like I said, you are really very clueless here - maybe you need to grow up yourself?

    Most of my Senior House

    By on

    Most of my Senior House friends were people like me

    \

    That explains a lot.

    The reality is that these kids are NOT coddled - in fact, their "failure" to graduate "on time" often stems from their inability to magic money out of deadbeat parents and the world at large, meaning that they have to have near-full time jobs to make ends meet.

    They can obtain loans like anyone else and deal with the back breaking debt like everyone else does. I'm sure they are also eligible for the various benefit programs available from the Commonwealth, City of Cambridge, and the feds, which MIT students should be intelligent enough to figure out the application process for.

    I was homeless going into university and wouldn't have had a place to live if it weren't for making sure to keep up with housing scholarships and benefit programs.

    If someone was sharp enough to get into MIT they should be competent enough to get their act together if they actually care about their future. Obviously many of these students have other priorities in life they value more than completing their education. Let them drop out to make room for serious students.

    Choosing debt means you're smart?

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    They can obtain loans like anyone else and deal with the back breaking debt like everyone else does.

    Taking a little longer to graduate--rather than financially hobble the next decade + of your life--is my idea of smart.

    The 4 yr graduation time is great if you can afford it. Fewer kids can these days, at any college. Kudos to any kid who can get into--and graduate--from MIT.

    Delta House

    By on

    Oh BOY this is great!

    Collective punishment

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    Senior House alum here (who graduated on time, went on to get a PhD, and didn't do a single illegal thing beyond roof and tunnel hacking).

    It never ceases to amaze me that institutions are surprised that when students aren't treated as adults, they don't act as adults.

    Since when is collective punishment regarding something so basic as housing and community considered a good idea? You're disrupting people's lives that have done not a single thing wrong.

    By analogy, "Faculty member found sleeping with student, entire faculty fired" is a headline never.

    Last time Senior House's undergraduate status was threatened, the scheme was to turn the dorm into graduate and summer visitor housing. We organized tours of the building to dispel rumors of nefarious going's on. One well-respected and liked faculty member told me that the tour must have been selective to avoid the places where residents had destroyed the place.

    There is often no check when ridiculous notions come to power.

    The comments in the article are likely correct: Senior House isn't causing poor academic performance, it is providing an environment that accepts people who happen to take longer to get their degree. If that's against school policy, put them on academic probation like anyone else. If they bust up something or violate policies or laws, put them on disciplinary probation.

    Can't prove any of it? Don't go outside of your established mechanisms. You're setting a bad example by which you, not they, should be judged. And try to build real relationships, because discipline without them breeds disrespect and rebellion.

    And you don't rebuild a culture from the top down. That's god-pretending crazy talk.

    Not Delta House, MIT's actions wrong

    By on

    Senior House has never been Delta House - what it has been for decades is a place with its own counter-cultural character. What I find most upsetting about all this is that it was done without student input. If there are problems with Senior House MIT needs to TALK to the residents. Get their input on proposed changes. Try to find a way to help with problems without throwing out everything that makes it a special place. One of the things that has always made MIT special was that each dorm has its own character and culture. Don't take that away.

    I say good riddance to Senior

    By on

    I say good riddance to Senior House. Yes, Delta is a bad analogy, because the gender dynamics are completely different. The problem with Senior House is the distractions from the #1 reason most students enrolled in MIT in the first place:. Academics.

    The problems with Senior House are so chronic that a one-off repopulation is not going to be another of enduring solution. The architecture of the building needs to be changed.

    Wrong

    The problem with Senior House is that it is an affordable place for people getting zero support from family to get help from their friends.

    MIT doesn't want any of the low cost living groups anymore because MONETIZATION.

    Your analysis could not be further from reality. I spent many an hour in that dorm and would not have passed Quantum - let alone with an A - had I not spent a lot of time studying with brilliant and creative friends who lived there.

    What MIT is trying to do is "drown the bunnies" and push out the kids with "too many problems" - problems like having parents who are idiots. Problems like being gay and sorting things out. Problems like not being born to rich people who micromanage their lives so that they can "focus on academics". That's what MIT is doing. Everyone who ever went there pretty much knows it - the taylorized micromanagement monetization of student cash cows doesn't work with some people - so those people must go away and not bother the neoliberal/neocon ideal of wringing money out of everything.

    The faculty used to protect these places - but then they have been monetized, too.

    That's a pretty wild

    By on

    That's a pretty wild conspiracy theory.

    Random and EC were cheaper than Senior House. And of course there's Student House.

    If you think Haus was the only place that lost and desperate students existed and got help, then you really didn't get out much.

    they weren't kidding about the low graduation rates

    By on

    Jesus: https://chancellor.mit.edu/sites/default/files/MITGraduationRates-2008-2...

    Senior House has a 4 year graduation rate of 60% and a 6 year rate of 78%, both of which are ten points behind the next lowest dorm. MIT as a whole has a 6 year rate of 92%.

    I know, I know - correlation v. causation, not everyone needs a bachelor's, etc. But I don't think this is about a bunch of squares cracking down on hip misfits.

    In an institute thread on Reddit cited on Quartz, an alum calls the plan gentrification and whitewashing. “The new mission statement reads like something from a beauty-product pyramid scheme website. MIT is taking its most racially/sexually/socioeconomically diverse and accepting community and turning it into a yuppie dorm for rich kids,” the alum writes.

    a) this is way off-base
    b) the lack of self-awareness in an MIT alum who currently works as a quantitative trader decrying "gentrification" on MITs campus is...remarkable.

    The numbers are telling

    By on

    2 in 5 MIT students who start off in Senior House won't graduate in 4 years; 1 in 5 won't graduate in 6.

    This is a problem.

    The question is: why? Is it that students who are less likely to graduate are attracted to Senior? If so, what can MIT and Senior House do together to resolve some of the barriers these students are facing? Is something about Senior House less productive to graduating? If so, what can MIT and Senior House do together to resolve some of the barriers Senior House seems to be imposing on its residents? Is there something about 4-year and 6-year graduation rate statistics that somehow are less relevant to Random House residents? How so? The statistics refer to first-semester-first-year housing status -- is it possible that the outcome for into-Senior House transfers is higher, suggesting that focus be narrowed on Senior House 'early adopters'?

    Senior House residents and former residents should be called upon by the administration to bring the numbers more in line, with the assistance of the administration. With just under 150 residents, just getting a few more to graduate within-6 and a few of the within-6es to graduate within-4 will juice their numbers substantially.

    Certainly seems manageable.

    Above anon and others don't grok that "correlation ≠ cause"

    By on

    I recommend reading up on confounding and selection bias.

    ie, If a particular college living group attracts students who are more at risk of drop out before they arrive - say, because it is recognized as offering more community support than typical, then a higher dropout rate for that group says nothing about the efficacy of those supports - the rate might easily be even higher if they become unavailable.

    "Ad hoc ergo proctor hoc" has been recognized as a logical fallacy for at least a couple thousand years, but it's exactly the sort of bad reasoning that MIT admin engaged in with - it bears repeating - illicitly obtained data from a anonymous survey.

    Occam's razor

    By on

    Meanwhile, dorm rush is such a blitz that the major distinction you might expect a green frosh to draw between Senior House and EC/Random/Bexley is Steer Roast.

    And the effect of Senior House is not limited to its residents. I know multiple people from other residences that started out as serious students, then fell into the Senior House crowd, had their grades drop and ended up on academic probation or withdrawing.

    The correlation/causality argument can be thrown at practically any issue you disagree with. But the problems with Senior House go back so many decades, and dorm rush so short and arbitrary, that you have to make really big assumptions to hypothesize that the low graduation rate is due to external factors.

    You know why these things happen?

    They happen because the low cost living groups attract people who:
    1. emancipated themselves from parents at age 16, but are still expected to have a "parental contribution"
    2. have parents who didn't go to college and don't see why they should pay anything
    3. have families that can't handle that they are gay and punish them for it
    4. haven't seen their dad since that day when they were 10 and walking to meet their mother at her motel cleaning job, noticed him passed out on the street.
    5. have parents who don't know how to navigate all the stumbling blocks that MIT financial aid throws at them, or can't support kids to that expectation
    6. members of a minority group and also #5 or #3
    7. dealing with emergent mental illness issues, combined with any of the above.

    I could go on - these are all true stories, one of them mine. I guess we don't have that ideal anymore where MIT was the step up for the best and the brightest of the working class, or where thinking differently or being different is valued. Now it is all MONEY FROM STUDENTS! LET'S WRING IT OUT BAAAAYYYYYBEEEE! based on bullshit metrics of success that mean nothing in the real world.

    FTR, I voted for Stove and Cat. PBBBTHBT!

    "Delta house' snark is inaccurate and misleading, Adam

    By on

    When most people think of Delta House, they think - boozing, raucus, violent, gross, and slacker. (Yes, they also think hilarious).

    Anyone reading the linked article (which I encourage) will see that Senior House is most definitely NOT a Delta House. It has been, for decades, one of the most tolerant and supportive living spaces for undergrads at the meat grinder known as MIT. It's also been more politically and culturally progressive than the administration is comfortable with. SHers have often been at the forefront calling out the admins on poorly implemented or even counter-productive policies regarding undergraduate life. We're talking mental health supports, suicide prevention (a terribly serious problem at MIT), promotion of safer sex programs, LGBT awareness, and lots of etc.

    To put it short and sweet, what the administration did recently was to illegally take the confidential reports of a campus-wide mental health survey and then use bad statistical analyses (confirmed as such by independent scientists) to justify turning out several hundred young people from their community. This, in my opinion, is part of a continuing long-term program to 'commodify' the undergraduate experience at MIT. Short term this makes more money for the tute by appealing to culturally conservative, well-financed, primarily overseas prospects (a strategy popular among many 2nd tier US liberal arts schools). But long term, this is damaging to the explorative and emergent creativity that has powered MIT (and enriched this region's economy) for the last century or so.

    Full disclosure - I'm an MIT alum. I never lived at Senior House, although I was a member of an independent living group (aka coed fraternity) over here in Boston that has also often been considered 'difficult' by the MIT admins. I also worked for one of the largest technology companies in the world as their MIT liaison for about a decade.

    Not Animal House

    By on

    MIT's Senior House, which I called home in the 1990's, has always looked and felt to me more like the places I saw in Real Genius, another contemporary movie, than in Animal House.

    The headline is misleading for an article that reflects both the spirit of the dorm and the reason for the students'' protest.

    Senior House ≠ Delta House

    MIT alum here (not Senior House). I concur with mg, Ron Newman, & Jeff F that Delta House is a completely inappropriate comparison and have little to add, except perhaps the obvious: one is an entirely homosocial arrangement, while the other is anything but.

    I don't recall any women in Delta House, let alone LGBTQ characters, and I can't imagine Bluto feeling this way: “I’ve been super depressed in my life – I’m not right now – but whenever I was I could just walk into the lounge and tell my friends, and they would just hug me."

    It's a shame what MIT is doing to this creative, eclectic, and close-knit community.