College set to reclaim Mission common rooms for Winter Study

Most common rooms in the Mission Park complex are to be vacated by the end of the semester under a new directive from the College administration. The plan – presented to House Coordinators in an e-mail sent yesterday afternoon by Linda Brown, coordinator of housing services – calls for the spaces to be emptied of “all personal possessions. . .by the time you all leave at the end of the fall semester.”

According to Norma Lopez, assistant dean of the College, the move was spurred by an impending housing crunch that by latest count leaves 48 students without beds for the Winter Study period, and more than half that total for the second semester.

“There are 34 common rooms in Mission we call “swing rooms” that can be used as bed spaces,” Lopez said. “For the month of January, we’ll be using them to house students coming back from abroad.”

Lopez attributed what Brown called a “very tight crunch” to the uncertain number of students studying abroad next semester. Several students initially intending to study abroad have since decided to stay on campus, leaving the housing office with little leeway in the placement of returning students who had anticipated additional vacancies in the Greylock quad.

While the final status of those students after Winter Study was not immediately known, the e-mail did announce that “some of these rooms may also need to be used for the spring semester.”

Initial reaction from sophomore housing leadership was not favorable, as several students expressed dismay at the logistics of evicting residents from their common rooms halfway through the year, and others questioned the timing of the announcement.

“I certainly don’t think it’s fair in the way that it has been presented,” said Karen Untereker ’05, the Class of 2005 College Council Representative. “Even if everyone does have to lose their common rooms, it’s real bad to have to do it the week right before break. I certainly understand that people need rooms, but if there was a housing crunch, they should have let us know earlier in the fall.”

“We absolutely have to find storage for everything in these rooms, which is something that’s not mentioned at all in the e-mail,”Armstrong House Coordinator Julia Prieto ’05 said. “The fact that they could be used in the spring is angering people all over,” Prieto said, “but it’s not like we can just go and send everything home in a week. There really should be something done to help.”

“We really feel bad that we have to take any of these common rooms away,” Lopez said. The College’s physical plant, however, constrains the housing office’s options for housing the returning students.

Lopez added that after accounting for the juniors leaving after Winter Study, there are still 27 returning students requiring beds. As a result, each of the 20 students presently single-occupying rooms designated as doubles will be given roommates for both Winter Study and the spring semester, which should minimize the number of Mission Park common rooms occupied in the long term. Regarding the storage of items, Lopez emphasized said the Dean’s Office will be exploring options for storage outside of the Mission complex during this week.

Some students, however, asked for something more concrete from the administration. “We’re looking for an arrangement where the School or B&G helps everyone move their belongings into a safe space,” said Kerel Nurse ’05, MinCo rep to CC. “Some people have a considerable amount of things there, and it’s only fair for them to provide a little help.”