We need Senior House

Jane Maunsell
Jun 11, 2016 · 1 min read

I spent my adolescence grappling surreptitiously with gender, and with contradictory accompanying emotions: frustration that other people couldn’t see how conflicted I was, and fear that they might find out and be repulsed. Even during my boldest experiments with androgyny — I spent several months binding my chest — I was still not brave enough to talk to my friends about it. It was lonely.

And then I came to Senior House, and I didn’t feel abnormal anymore. In case you didn’t know, fully 40% of us are queer; and pretty much everyone’s some kind of oddball. For many of us, it’s the first place we fit in — or at least, the first place we feel comfortable sticking out.

The MIT administration believes it is acting in our best interests. I appreciate that, and I do think there is work to be done improving mental health and academic performance at Senior House. But this was not the way to go about it. This community of outcasts has been very publicly put into quarantine. The community that welcomed me so openly last year is now, quite suddenly, closed.

I had a great freshman year at MIT. Perhaps I’d have done just as well academically if I’d been in a different dorm, but I don’t think I’d have felt at home. I needed Senior House. I still do. There are people in the class of 2020 who need Senior House too.