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Residential Life at Ashdown

Ashdown House was the first graduate residence at MIT (and only the second in the United States). From the very beginning, it has actively promoted social interactions among its residents and has fostered a tight-knit community of students. Like any great endeavor, this would not be possible without the dedication of several important people, as described below.

Running the Dormitory

Housemaster Adam Berinsky takes part in Chocolate Fountain Night at Ashdown.

At the center of the Ashdown community are (and have always been) the Housemasters. Currently, the Housemasters are Political Science Professor Adam Berinsky and Dr. Deirdre Logan. Recently accepting the position in 2013, Adam and Deirde are active in house affairs and work tirelessly to make sure that Ashdown is a welcoming and supportive community for all of its residents. They have continued several important traditions since taking over, such as Thursday night Coffee Hour, the annual Thanksgiving Banquet and Housemaster Dinners for residents, but they also are introducing some new ones including monthly birthday parties. Adam and Deirdre are joined at Ashdown by Associate Housemasters Yuriy Roman, a Chemical Engineering Professor, and Dr. Katie Roman. Both sets of Housemasters are actively involved in the dorm management, helping to ensure a smoothly-running, successful community.

Working hand-in-hand with the Housemasters is our House Manager, Denise Lanfranchi, and her staff: Leonard Ferrari, Pablo Lara, Arlene Grant, Maria Miguel, John Gallagher, Kristin, Grace Foti and Leanne Giannino. Together, these individuals facilitate the day-to-day running of Ashdown. This includes administrative tasks (such as maintaining a database of residents, issuing keys and receiving mail) as well as facilities-related tasks (such as fixing broken equipment and ensuring common spaces remain clean). Without these individuals, the dorm would not be such a friendly and comfortable place to live.

Ashdown residents also play a key role in ensuring a successful graduate experience. The student-related issues of the dorm are managed by the Ashdown House Executive Committee (AHEC). AHEC is elected annually in the spring and oversee most aspect of the dorm life. They promote community by encouraging social events, manage much of the Ashdown budget, organize the student officers and run the room assignment lotteries. Additionally, they are the official representatives of Ashdown to the MIT administration as well as the primary liaisons to other student groups. All residents should feel free to contact for any questions regarding life at Ashdown House.

Working under the supervision of AHEC are the few dozen Ashdown Officers, a group of students devoted to improving life at Ashdown in a variety of different ways. Some officers are responsible for organizing events such as Coffee Hour, Brunch, dance parties and alumni outreach events. Others are responsible for the equipment and resources within the dorm such as the computers/printers, the athletics equipment, the fish tank, the piano, the dorm TVs, and the common kitchen supplies. Although their duties vary, the dedication of each officer is important to the well-being of our community. A complete list of all the officer positions can be found on the Government page.

Life, Traditions and Culture

Ashdown House has always been a place of culture and social life, a tight-knit community of graduate students who truly embrace the advantages of dorm life at MIT. It is a uniquely diverse environment where students from nearly every corner of the world bring their own traditions, languages and perspectives.

Residents snatch up fruit, pancakes, and other foods at July 4th BBQ
Besides the socializing and cultural exchange that arises naturally among students living in Ashdown House, we host a number of regular social and cultural events for residents. These include
  • Thursday Night Coffee Hour: Perhaps the most well-known and longest-standing Ashdown event, this weekly gathering provides residents with an opportunity to chat with one another and escape from the stress of MIT academics. We typically do not run any programming during Coffee Hour except a few times a year, so it is really just a time to meet your friends, relax and chat over free food in our largest common room. Despite the name of the event, we do also serve lots of ice cream and snacks.
  • Sunday Brunch: The extremely popular Sunday Brunches originated within the Ashdown Community and Ashdown House still serves as one of the sites for the monthly brunches. These brunches are open to the entire MIT Graduate Community (on and off campus), are entirely graduate student ran and operated, and typically have an attendance in excess of 300 people.
  • Dance Parties: Since its inception, Ashdown House has a strong tradition of hosting memorable social events such as mixers and dance parties. Past events include formal galas, orientation dance parties and even occasional themed parties like Arabian Nights and Harry Potter.
  • July 4th BBQ: Every year, Ashdown hosts a huge cookout on Independence Day and volunteers help to prepare and serve hundreds of burgers, hot dogs, sausages, cut fruit and desserts.

  • Ashdown Concerts are a cultural experience: students show off their repertoire from classical to modern, and from every corner of the world.
  • Alumni Concert: We usually have at least one concert per year in which residents and alumni from Ashdown House show off what they've been upto outside of the lab. We encourage everyone from beginners to music majors to show off anything they wish to their fellow resident friends.
  • Cultural and Floor Events: Every year, we hold a few heavily-subsidised outings to concerts, operas and museums for residents. Some Ashdown officers are responsible for a number of in-house events that bring both local and foreign cultures to Ashdown House, including holiday-themed events, a Pi Day celebration, a Philosophy reading group, and many others.
  • Your idea: Do you have an idea for Ashdown residents, want to spearhead it, and need funding? Just come to an AHEC meeting and and we'll try to make it possible.

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