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Senior House Housemaster

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To whom it may concern: We, the residents of Senior House, are seriously concerned regarding the imminent departure of our current housemasters, Henry and Cynthia Jenkins, and the absence of a housemaster to replace them. Moreover we have been getting increasingly uncomfortable with the lack of transparency shown to us in the past month, despite our repeated requests for an answer to our main question: When will Wanda and Walter Bender be confirmed as housemasters of Senior House We, the undersigned below, feel that we are duly entitled to a fair and expeditious answer to this question. We have known about the upcoming departure of the Jenkins since last fall, and a search committee involving house GRTs as well as current students was formed immediately following their announcement. For months students from all over the dorm proposed various candidates and personally invited them to participate in our search for a suitable housemaster. These students could have been doing any activity they wanted, yet they chose to better our dorm, our home, by spending countless hours vetting numerous wonderful candidates. When all was said and done, the search committee was able to come up with two fully vetted candidates who were both equally great in their own rights, and by that stage in the game we were assured by the deans' office that both were qualified to wear the mantle of Housemaster. It was unfortunate that the Silbeys decided to bow out of the running, but we were very pleased that Wanda and Walter Bender remained committed to the job of being the Senior House Housemasters, a duty which they will surely embrace and love when they are confirmed. Here is the problem: We (both the dorm and the Benders) are being told by Res Life that the 'search' is still ongoing. Our current wonderful housemasters, Henry and Cynthia Jenkins, are leaving this coming Wednesday. We need a new housemaster, and we need one fast. Apparently, there is still a concern with Mr. Bender's position within MIT. He is not tenured faculty, but rather is a Senior Research Scientist in the MIT Media Lab. He has served as the director of the Media Lab, and is the co-founder of One Laptop Per Child. He is guaranteed a position with MIT for the next five years, similar to tenure, where he cannot be fired. In all aspects, his everyday activities at the institute are equivalent to someone with a tenure faculty position. For example, Walter Bender teaches undergrad courses, advises UROPs in lab, and supervises masters and PhD students. He was cleared by Dean Colombo within the first round of interviews to continue his application; he even called the Dean's office to verify he could run although not technically a tenured faculty. So why this question is being raised now is mind-boggling. Given that quite a few dorms (East Campus, Next House) have non-tenured faculty as appointed housemasters, there is clear precedent for granting the position of housemaster to qualified candidates like the Benders. For the last three weeks, we have heard nothing except "We'll let you know later this week" from Dean Colombo's office. Senior House is losing half of its GRTs this year, and the other half at the end of next year. As a dorm we really liked the Benders and think they'll do a great job; why can't they be appointed already They need time to move in before REX begins, so they can start integrating into our community and assure freshmen parents that their children are in good hands, as well as simply needing time to move, as all people do! Further, about 90% of Senior House residents are not here during the summertime; any new 'candidates' would not be able to be vetted by more than a small sampling of our residents. In conclusion, we are frustrated and upset with the lack of any new information coming our way. There exists a fully qualified and excited candidate, ready to step in as housemaster, as soon as you say the word. The search committee fully backs this nomination. And as a dormitory, we have done our best effort to pick the best candidate, in good faith that the powers that be would honor our decision. At this point we feel disrespected and are losing faith in the MIT administration. We demand the appointment of Wanda and Walter Bender as Senior House housemasters immediately. The Residents of Senior House


Senior House Residents
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