3.0 An Integrated Residential Environment

3.1 Philosophy:

As has been stated many times elsewhere in this report, community is one of the three areas in which MIT is committed to educating its students. MIT's residential campus already plays a powerful educational role in this area. Today's residential community provides students with some understanding of the responsibilities of and opportunities for the individual in society. Tomorrow's residential community may provide students not only with the opportunity to learn those skills by doing them, but also by following the example of older members of the community who will be able to teach by doing.

The educational benefits of the residential system are described in both the introduction and appendix to this committee's interim report, as well as in other documents. Living groups provide residents with sources of academic collaboration and tutoring, intellectual mentors, emotional support, and, of course, close personal friendships with peers. Living groups also provide students with the opportunity to participate directly in the governance of their community. Through this participation students learn leadership, interpersonal communications skills, and what the often-touted Ryer Committee report called "self-mastery."

Maintaining and augmenting MIT's strong and successful residential community is critical to fostering a commitment to educating its students for life. The residential campus stands at the center of MIT's current community; if the Educational Triad is to succeed, we must continue to house students and faculty on campus, and indeed increase our commitment to doing so. Not only should MIT remain committed to maintaining the current undergraduate housing system, but the Institute should recognize that increasing the involvement of graduate students and faculty in the residential system can augment the educational role played by the residential campus.

We believe the educational role of the residence system could be increased by bringing the different parts of MIT closer together within that system. Placing graduate students, undergraduate students, and faculty in closer proximity would increase the likelihood of natural, unprogrammed interaction between the three groups. It is through those interactions that students - especially younger students - are most likely to find role models in their own social, academic, and professional lives. For this reason, this committee has examined how and to what extent the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty residential communities might be integrated.

3.2 The present: Separate needs, separate lives

While today's residential campus plays a large educational role, the current residential community is a divided one, and these divisions have reduced and distorted the system's educational impact. The biggest division often cited is that between fraternities and dormitories, but this prominent division masks the even greater divisions between faculty and students, and between graduate students and undergraduate students. We believe that there are advantages to gradually integrating these three communities in the residential system while at the same time maintaining housing options attractive to each group.

Faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students each have unique housing requirements. Many faculty and graduate students have spouses and children. Faculty and most graduate students typically require apartment-style living arrangements, while undergraduates are compatible with dormitory-style arrangements. These requirements are real and should be maintained in new facilities.

At the same time, however, many housing requirements are held in common by all three groups. The convenience of living on or very near campus is certainly desired by many junior faculty and most students. To some extent, all three groups can benefit from common space and common facilities, such as dining halls, convenience stores, laundry machines, desk services, and entertainment. And while apartment and dormitory-style living arrangements probably should not be mixed within the same hall, entry, or "living group," there is no reason to believe they cannot at least coexist in the same building, let alone in the same general area of campus. Graduate tutors and housemasters already take advantage of such coexistence.

3.3 Proposal: Different facilities, integrated spaces

Residential facilities are expensive to build and maintain and, as such, individual and institutional economic considerations must play a central role in determining how students and faculty might be brought closer together on the residential campus. First, in order to continue to attract top-quality faculty and students, facilities will have to be attractive to those who would occupy them. Faculty housing would have to meet requirements for privacy and, of course, peace and quiet. For this reason, faculty housing might remain in the same structure as other housing, but in a functionally separate area of the building.

Faculty and graduate students with children - especially children of school age - will undoubtedly wish to remain in communities outside of Cambridge. This committee expects that on-campus faculty housing will be geared toward junior faculty, single faculty, and senior faculty.

New housing constructed on or near campus should be designed with the expressed goal of increasing the extent to which faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students are able to interact. Graduate, undergraduate, and faculty housing facilities should be located near to one another, and may share dining and other facilities in common. Where possible, the structures themselves should be shared in the sense that some common space be available to all groups.

Finally, the housing system should be able to support a greater variety of residence programming. In addition to housemasters and graduate residence tutors, academic departments and the Dean's Office may designate "community chairs" (see below) to play a leadership role in the residential community. Funds should be available for community-wide event-planning and community-wide activities such as sports, arts events, and other activities - many of which are known only as "student activities" in the current system.