The summer before freshman year, I remember the struggle I had trying to decide which dorm I wanted to live in for my first year at MIT. I must confess that it was a short struggle. The plethora of options was so overwhelming that I essentially gave up and ranked the dorms by seemingly arbitrary criteria without doing any research into them.
Here were my rankings and thoughts: 1) Baker: because I was hosted here for CPW and thought it was awesome that the rooms had sinks in them. 2) Maseeh: because it looks clean and it’s close to everything. 3) I can’t even remember what I ranked past number 2 because I didn’t have any strong opinions either way. I do, however, remember ranking Next House last because the only thing I knew about it was that I thought it was really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really far from everything (debatable, if I'm being honest with myself).
Things turned out fine for me. I ended up in Maseeh and I liked it so much, I have stayed here all four years on the same floor, and in the same room for three of those four years. However, I’m sure not everyone is ok with this wily-nily method of making housing arrangements.
I have compiled a list of the pros and cons of living in Maseeh that I hope you will find useful, whether you are reading this because you might be looking to move here in the future, or because you are just interested to know more about Maseeh Hall, or because you are a pros and cons list connoisseur, or because you meant to click on a different link but then accidentally clicked on this one so here you are now. Anyway, in an attempt to make this blog post as representative as possible, I not only included my own thoughts and opinions, but I also interviewed some current residents regarding their experiences here in Maseeh.
Note: This is not meant to be the definitive guide to Maseeh, but rather a student perspective on what we like and don't like about living at Maseeh. More neutral facts, like the fact that Maseeh participates in Residential Associate Advising might not be reflected in this list if I or the students interviewed did not have strong opinions about them either way. You can check out the MIT's page on housing for more information: https://housing.mit.edu/node/5476.
Pros and Cons List:
1. Convenient location on campus – Maseeh is located in the middle of campus, which means it’s close to virtually everywhere, including the student center, the Z Center (The Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center), Massachusetts Avenue, and classes.
2. Clean and new – Opened in 2011, Maseeh is the newest dorm, which means it hasn’t been subject to as much wear and tear as some of the other, older dorms.
3. Has culture (contrary to popular belief) – See appendix.
4. Has a dining hall: serves lunch – The Howard Dining Hall in Maseeh is the only dining hall that serves lunch, in addition to breakfast, dinner, and late night (which is the meal you eat late at night because you have stayed up so late past dinner, your stomach thinks it is mealtime again. or it's the "meal" you have because you are craving french fries at midnight).
5. Lots of freshmen – In 2015, The Tech reported that Maseeh was the most popular choice for housing among freshman, with 277 students choosing Maseeh in the housing lottery. That means if you’re a freshmen looking to hang out with your fellow classmates or work on GIR psets together, Maseeh is the place to be. Here is the article if you're interested: http://tech.mit.edu/V135/N22/fyre2015.html)
6. Convenient location on campus: See number 1.
7. Pretty big rooms – If you end up with a single, double or triple in Maseeh, chances are you’ll be impressed/satisfied with the amount of space you get. I live in a double that’s 257 square feet and that’s enough space to fit our beds, desks, closets, a futon, a small refrigerator, and an area rug, without it feeling cramped at all.
8. Flat walls that are fairly soundproof – As I was interviewing people for this post, someone listed “flat walls” as a pro and I was at first baffled by this response. But then I remembered that the walls in Baker are brick – which makes it harder to hang things on your wall – and the walls in Simmons can be undulating and curvy. The person I interviewed had actually FYRE’d from Simmons to Maseeh and had been somewhat peeved by the fact that her curved walls in Simmons prevented her from putting a refrigerator flush against the wall.
9. Amazing GRTs – I’m sure GRTs in the other dorms are amazing too, but from personal experience and my own biased perspective, the ones in Maseeh are the most amazing ones. Each floor (except the basement and floor 1, which are each half a floor) has two GRTs who have open door policies for students to come to them if they ever need any help or just need someone to talk to. They also host weekly study breaks where they whip up some delicious, homemade food (i.e. pancakes, cookies, kale chips, cake, hot chocolate, etc.) and encourage the floor to take a break from their work to hangout and socialize for a bit.
10. No snow in the windows – This was a comment someone made specifically in reference to Burton Conner. Apparently some of the windows in BC (only some in the hallway, I have been informed by an actual BC resident) are not snow proof, so if it’s extremely windy and snowy, little piles of snow will accumulate on the inside of the window.
11. Convenient location on campus – See number 6.
12. Bright and airy rooms – The brightness and “airiness” is probably closely related to it’s also being clean and new. The lighting is good and the walls are white, which lend a bright aura to the dorm as a whole. Plus, the windows are large and let in a lot of light (during the non-sad, non-the-darkness-of-winter-is-crushing-my-soul seasons). Plus, plus, the ceilings in the basement and the 1st floor are extra high, so the rooms feel even more spacious.
13. Handicap accessible – Not all dorms have elevators. Equipped with elevators that reach every floor, a ramp that leads up to the front entrance, and handicap accessible rooms and bathrooms, Maseeh has made an effort to keep the dorm open to all who might want to visit or live here.
14. Well-funded – Maseeh has money. Not only are GRTs given money to host study breaks and each floor is given a certain amount of money to spend on whatever the floor wants (i.e. more furniture, study breaks, or student outings), but the executive council of Maseeh (MHEC) is also extremely open to funding events, groups, and clubs that residents show interest in. Past and current clubs include: movie club, nail painting club, baking club, Theremin club, knitting club, etc. MHEC also holds a Maseeh boat cruise each year and they also recently started holding biweekly study breaks in the Maseeh lobby.
15. Home of the bestest choco chip cookies ever – Our associate heads of house, Cullen and Donielle Buie also hold study breaks in their room every few weeks. In my opinion as a humble cookie-eater, I can confidently say that they are some of the best, if not the best cookies I have ever eaten. This may be in part because they are served toasty fresh out of the oven with a cool glass of lactose-free milk (which I have discovered is delicious). Sometimes, they will also set up their Michael Jackson: The Experience Nintendo Wii video game and you can dance to your heart’s content while stuffing your face full of chocolate chip cookies and milk.
16. Close to Boston – Similar to the way that it is conveniently located to many important places on campus, Maseeh is also the closest dorm to the Harvard Bridge, which, unlike its name suggests, leads to Boston, not Harvard. By “closest”, I mean right next to. Just walk out the back door of Maseeh and you’re there, now only a short 364.4 smoot walk across the bridge to Boston. Also, like many dorms on dorm row, you can get a great view of the Charles River (if you’re lucky enough to end up on the right side of the building that is).
17. Air-conditioned hallways – Though the rooms themselves are not air-conditioned, at least the hallways are, which not all dorms can boast. This might not mean diddlysquat to you right now, but when the terror that is the stiflingly humid summer weeks at the start of the semester hit you full force, you’ll be grateful that at least some part of your dorm can be a safe haven from the dizzying heat. I speak from the greatly exaggerated perspective of someone who is an avid dissenter against moist, hot air.
18. Convenient location on campus – See number 11.
19. Convenient location on campus – See number 18.
20. Convenient location on campus – See number 19.
21. Convenient location on campus – See number 20.
22. Convenient location on campus – See number 21.
23. Convenient location on campus – See number 22.
1. Potentially more expensive – According to MIT’s guide to residences (http://mitguidetoresidences.mit.edu/map/maseeh-hall), the cost of living at Maseeh ranges from $5,120 - $3,575. For reference, compare that to Burton Conner ($4,780 - $3,785) or Next House ($4,780 - $3,785). Consider also the cost of the required meal plan that you would be forced to pay if you lived in Maseeh or any other dorm that requires a meal plan.
2. One terrible kitchen for all 500+ students – Direct quote from a resident: “The kitchen is not even a kitchen”. While this is (probably) a hyperbole, it is true that there is only one kitchen in all of Maseeh, despite it having the largest number of students living there. While we should be thankful that we even have kitchen facilities at all, the facilities themselves aren’t anything to write home about. The stoves work fine but the ovens are never hot enough and it may or may not take you 1.5+ hours to bake a frozen pie that should only take 40 minutes. If there are more than one or two people in there cooking at a time, it can also start to feel a bit cramped.
3. Has no culture (according to popular belief) – See appendix
4. Has a dining hall: mandatory meal plan – As a freshman, you are required to be on the Any 19 meal plan which means breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday-Friday as well as brunch and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays (Note: recently Maseeh, like Simmons, has also started offering Late Night). Unfortunately, due to the nature of the dining system, any meals you do not eat in a week do not roll over and the money you spent is essentially flushed down a metaphorical toilet. Even as a junior and senior, the lowest you can go is Any 10, which means 10 meal swipes for any meal of your choosing during the week. I personally chafed quite a bit against this meal plan mandate and it was probably the one aspect of Maseeh that I disliked the most.
5. High turnover rate year to year – I don’t have any statistics on this, but every year there seems to be a significant exodus out of Maseeh, either from people moving into other dorms or into other FSILGs. This can either be viewed as a con, in the sense that not many people stick around year to year, or as a pro, in the sense that you get to meet a lot of new people every year. Up to you. This isn’t to say that people don’t stay at all. There are a few seniors who, like me have lived on Maseeh 2 for all four years and as a consequence, we have become a part of a community.
6. Not many large common spaces – Yes, we have floor lounges that are great places for floor mates to get together and socialize, but Maseeh also lacks dorm wide spaces to hold larger events in.
7. Pretty small rooms (if you are in a quad) – The quads here are extremely cramped. Considering that my double is 257 square feet, it seems odd that the smallest quad would only be 325 square feet. It’s also a little weird because the rooms that are quads are, on certain floors, designated as doubles. This seems entirely unfair. But it is what it is. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily for the freshmen), you will only ever be forced into a quad as a freshman. As a sophomore and onwards, you are virtually guaranteed to lottery into a single or double, or at the very least a triple.
Appendix – Student Testimonials:
Alex L. '17
On picking Maseeh:
“I picked Maseeh initially because several people on the swim team lived there when I was an incoming freshman. On my recruiting visit, I loved how clean, new, and quiet it was. I thought each floor had a unique culture and Maseeh is also most conveniently located to athletics, classes, and the student center. I’m still living here because Maseeh is the best environment for me, and a lot of my friends are still living here too.”
On the stereotypes of Maseeh:
“A stereotype that I hear is that Maseeh is not social. Totally false. Haters gonna hate! We have floor outings, interfloor events, and awesome study breaks. You might seem people randomly gathering in the lounge to play cards, board games, watch a movie, “The Bachelor”, or some other show. Also, food study breaks here are the best.”
On advice for students:
“Be friendly, and take a few minutes out of your busy days to say “hi” and get to know people you see in the lounge. They may become your close friends for the next 4 years.
Get to know GRTs and feel free to talk to them about anything. I love our GRTs!
Try lots of things to find out what you love and make the most of your 4 years. As I reflect, time has absolutely flown by.”
Niki T. '17
On picking Maseeh:
“I picked Maseeh mostly because I stayed here during CPW and really liked it. During CPW I met a lot of people who lived here by hanging out in the lounge, and I thought that I would fit in well. I also knew a few other freshmen who wanted to live here. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s so close to everything!”
On the stereotypes of Maseeh:
“A lot of people say Maseeh has no culture, which is so wrong. It’s true that Maseeh is probably one of the most varied dorms – people are in FSILGs, different clubs, and usually have a lot of friends outside of Maseeh. But that’s one of the things I love about living here. You can always find other people who are interested in what you’re interested in, and we all hang out and become one awesome, huge family.”
On living in Maseeh:
“I’ve been in Maseeh all four years (on the same floor too!). I just love Maseeh. Nearly all of my closest friends have lived on my floor at some point, and I’ve always felt so comfortable and welcomed here. Freshmen and sophomore year we would all hang out in the lounge all the time, schedule movie nights or game nights and go out together. Now, people who have moved off the floor always come back to hang out in our rooms. We just got a picture at a senior event of all the people who were on our floor freshman year, so even a few years later, we’ve all stayed in contact and try to reunite every once in a while.”
More anonymous comments
“They say that Maseeh is boring, but I don’t see it that way. It’s more like people do their own thing and it’s chill that way.”
“They say it [Maseeh] has no culture. This is pretty much true. It seems less like a family compared to other dorms, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.”
“People think Maseeh has no culture. That’s not necessarily true. I think it has a less obvious culture.”
“Other dorms have more of a community, but I also have a lot of great friends living on my floor.”
“Dining sucked. At first I was excited for dining, but now I’m not.”
“If you value cleanliness, Maseeh is the place to be.”