I have lived in four undergraduate dormitories and visited all of them multiple times. I’ve often been surprised at how different the dorms are from each other, and that a lot of properties I thought would be standardized across the living communities at a college were in fact not universally the case.
Several people have asked me for an opinion about the dorm they choose. As such, I’m dedicating a post to cataloging differences among MIT dorms that I’ve observed, and with a lot more clear-cut not-as-volatile properties than my previous post did.
Note, of course, that some things may have changed since I last observed the situation. In addition, although most information on this page is what I have seen myself, some facts I have heard from others and have not verified with my own eyes. Also, I don’t know everything about all dorms (and you could comment and help me fill things in!). I do not speak officially for MIT.
I will use the following abbreviations throughout the rest of this post, so that I don’t have to type them out later.
SH: Senior House
EC: East Campus
RH: Random Hall
SP: Simmons Hall
MH: Maseeh Hall
MC: McCormick Hall
BH: Baker House
BC: Burton-Conner House
MG: MacGregor House
NH: New House
NX: Next House
SP, MH, MC, BH, NX have dining halls and are also dorms where enrollment in a dining plan is mandatory. In other dorms, the dining plan is optional.
SH, EC, and RH allow cats on some floors. EC allows cats on 5 of its 10 floors. RH allows cats on 2 of its 8 ‘floors’.
SH, SP, MH, MC, BH, BC, MG, and NX have elevators. EC, RH, and NH do not, unless you want to count EC’s freight elevator that has no serious practical application to passenger travel. All three dorms without elevators play a message during fire alarms instructing evacuees to not use the elevators. All three dorms have produced media making fun of this. SP has rooms in locations for which you have to take two different elevators to access without stairs. MG has no elevators serving entries in the low rise (F, G, H, and J) and elevators serving only one of three floors of each high rise entry (A, B, C, D, and E).
SH and NH have air conditioning. All other undergrad dorms do not.
EC, SP, MH, MC, BH, NH, and NX have wooden or tile floors in rooms. Other dorms have carpeted floors in rooms.
EC comprises of two buildings (the two parallels). All other dorms are one building.
BC and MG are zero-indexed buildings (the ground floor is floor 0). The others are one-indexed, unless one decides to specify building indexing at precisenesses beyond the integer level (for instance, considering RH ⅔-indexed since there exist four steps up from the ground to floor 1 and twelve steps between its 0th and 1st floors).
NH has no basement. It is arguable whether the 0th floor of BC counts as a basement. All other dorms have basements.
MG and NH are connected by an enclosed hallway. The two parallels of EC are connected by an underground tunnel. MC is connected to Building W2 above-ground. BH and BC are connected to various non-dorm living groups. Other dorms are not connected to any other buildings.
RH is an extremely structured and regular building, with all floors having pretty much the same structure and extensive symmetries among and within floors. EC is also very structured, but with less intra-floor symmetries (and the two parallels very far from being mirror images of each other). MG has fairly regular intra-floor structure and analogous floor structures. MH, BH, and NX have similar floors, but no regular patterns in the structure of a floor. NH doesn’t even have floors that are similar in layout to each other, but at least there are larger subunits of the entire house that have similar structure. There really isn’t any regularity to speak of in SP’s structure, unless one counts how similar some windows look in comparison with each other. (There are 256 ways to paint the four sides of a window red, yellow, blue, or unpainted, so the Pigeonhole Principle easily requires identically-painted windows on SP.)
Here’s how far dorms are from various important locations on campus.
You could probably be in range of a Pokéstop on one end of NX. One Pokéstop is in range for each of MH and BH, and three for each of EC, RH, and SP. These counts of course do not include Pokéstops in range due to failure to correctly detect where you actually are.
RH is surrounded by non-MIT-affiliated buildings in Cambridge. All other buildings exclusively border areas comprising of other MIT buildings.
SH is in zip code 02142. RH, SP, MH, MC, BH, BC, MG, NH, and NX are in zip code 02139. I’m still not sure which zip code EC is in; I’ve got quite a few conflicting signals.
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