MIT announced recently that it will close a dorm favored by many minority students because of the low graduation rate and illegal drug abuse among its occupants.
While the average four-year graduation rate at MIT is 83.7%, only 59.7% of students who live in Senior House graduate at the same rate, according to Quartz. The percentage of students who remain at MIT after four years is three times higher for Senior House residents than for the average MIT student, reads the letter Senior House residents received mid-June.
“We see a vital need to act on these data alone,” says the letter. “However, the seriousness of the situation is further underscored by our significant concerns about issues of illegal drug use in Senior House.”
While MIT initially planned to simply renovate the house by prohibiting freshmen from joining the community, providing mental health resources, and giving it additional faculty oversight, it decided to disband it entirely.
“Senior House is a place that’s so diverse, politically, economically, and socially, that you were going to meet someone that really forced you to contest at least some of your own long-held beliefs,” said Timur Sahin, an MIT graduate who lived at Senior House.
Sahin accused MIT of performing gentrification by getting rid of the dorm.
Michelle G, a current MIT student, alleged that inexpensive dorms like Senior House attract low-income students who have a tendency to graduate from MIT at lower rates, in a post on the MIT admissions blog. She cites the Chancellor’s office statistic that 40% of residents at Senior House are from the LGBT community.
“The students who came to Senior House were high risk in the first place,” said Charisse L’Pree, a Syracuse University professor who lived at Senior House during her time as a student at MIT, according to Quartz. “Collapsing the community doesn’t keep them from being high risk—it scatters them so the university can’t address their risk in the community.”
“The Chancellor’s concern is the wellbeing and safety of MIT students and their residential communities, and that concern has guided our actions,” said the MIT News Office to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “As was shared with students about the decision regarding the next steps for this residence, which comes after nearly a year of engagement involving students, faculty, staff and alumni: ‘We believe that significant change is needed and have made our decision based on our concern and care for present and future residents of the house.'”
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