Don’t Diss the West Side

I love how many of the posts celebrate the zaniness, fun, and personal growth that comes from living on the East Side in general, at at East Campus in particular.  But a lot of posts have veered into trashing anybody who lives more than a few feet west of Mass Ave as a stuffed shirt, a trashing all West Side housing as living in a hotel.  They’re missing the whole point.

The glory of the MIT housing system, with students choosing where to live after experiencing what each dorm is like, is that all of the dorms have their own intense cultures.  Within a dorm, each floor (or entry) has its own culture. By picking the home that’s right for you, you add to that culture, and it sustains itself.  The EC culture that my son describes to me has a lot in common with the EC culture of when I was an MIT student (in the late Bronze Age, in case you’re wondering).  Obviously things evolve with each new generation of students — it would be pretty sad if they didn’t —  but the core values have largely stayed the same.

But EC wasn’t the only place where crazy things happened. Until the administration stopped it, the Baker piano drop was always at …wait for it …..Baker!  Baker was also the house with the strongest sense of house solidarity.  I lived in Burton-Conner , which had nine different cultures under one roof, and some of the best hacks around (he says congratulating himself). McGregor, New House, and Next House all had their share of colorful characters and colorful rituals.  (OK, McCormick was pretty staid.)   And that’s not even counting the frats and ILGs, which were 4-year residential back then.  The houses weren’t the same — far from it — but they all offered something far beyond the ordinary.

Mixing things up and having all the dorms be more the same would be a disaster for MIT student life.  Unbelievably bad idea.

So long live the spirit of EC!  May you haunt the rooftops and steam tunnels forever. And long live the spirits of Burton, Baker, and the rest of the dorms, too!


2 thoughts on “Don’t Diss the West Side”

  1. Absolutely! The best part of MIT was knowing that my dormmates and I chose each other. I lived at East Campus, but a friend from tae kwon do who lived in Macgregor told stories much like mine about the cooking groups, IAP adventures, and other things that made her time at the Institute survivable and enjoyable through having a chosen family and home here.