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Senior House

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Senior House
Address: 70 Amherst Street
Building # E2
Occupancy: 146
Room Types: singles, doubles
Dining: No dining plan; kitchens on halls
Housemasters: Agustin Rayo and Carmen Saracho Chavez
Opened: 1918
Housing info:

Senior House (or Senior Haus) is a co-ed undergrad dorm and the oldest dormitory at MIT, located on the far east side of campus next to Gray House. Since its opening in 1918, it has served as graduate housing, senior undergraduate housing, an on-campus fraternity, and military housing during World War II. Its motto is "Sport Death"/"only life can kill you", from the Hunter S. Thompson novel Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.

Despite the name, the dorm houses all four years of students, not just seniors. Residents are known for their creativity, involvement in artistic endeavors, independence, and putting great stock in a "live free or die" mentality.

The building's address is 4 Ames Street, but its mailing address is 70 Amherst Street, due to renovations in 1996 that altered the building's internal structure and moved the front door around the corner to Amherst Street.


Senior House is made of two connected perpendicular sides, each of which has three entries named after alumni: Ware, Atkinson, Runkle, Holman, Nichols, and Crafts; all of the entries are four stories high except for Runkle, which was six stories high (the top two floors are referred to as "Towers"). The entries were separated by walls until 1996, when renovations removed the walls between each entry and replaced them with long open hallways. As a result, the Haus was no longer split by entry, but by floor and side of the building. The two sides are referred to by their abbreviations, HNC and WAR; some halls use these abbreviations in their names (e.g., 4th WAR) and some use other names (e.g., DOOMCom). The structure of the renovated halls creates micro-communities of 10-20 people.

Steer Roast

Main article: Steer Roast

Every year on or around the first weekend of May, Senior House hosts Steer Roast, a weekend-long event involving live music, student-constructed art and projects throughout the house, the roasting of six sides of steer in the courtyard, and the subsequent feast the next afternoon. Residents plan and run the entire event, and invitations are mailed out to all Haus alumni, making the event both a reunion and an opportunity for alumni and current students to meet and interact with each other.


Senior House opened in the 1918-1919 academic year. At the time, as it was the first student residence at MIT, it was simply referred to as "the dormitories." The six entries were considered their own living groups. Four of the entries, Atkinson, Holman, Nichols, and Runkle were used as dormitories. The other two entries, Crafts and Ware, originally housed fraternities. Delta Kappa Epsilon resided in Crafts, and Delta Tau Delta in Ware. The fraternities were relocated elsewhere in a 1924 renovation.

In 1919, The Tech wrote of the self-governance at Senior House:

The Institute dormitories are the only ones in the United States, according to Burser Ford, which are wholly governed by the men living in them. So far the present system of dormitory government has proved an entire success. and the faculty are more than pleased waith the manner in which the committee has always accomplished its work.

Before 1933, the dormitories housed a mix of undergraduate and graduate men. With the opening of East Campus (then called the 1893 dormitory, after its donors, the MIT Class of 1893) in 1925, MIT had enough dormitory space to convert 4 Ames Street into Graduate House. In 1934, Holman, Nichols, and Crafts became graduate halls. By 1936 the entire house became Graduate Hall.

Seniors returned to the dormitory in 1939 with the purchase, renovation, and conversion of the Riverbank Court Hotel, now Maseeh Hall.

Baker House, during its construction, was called "the new Senior House." Its completion marked Senior House's return to a dormitory for all classes.

Senior House was considered a part of East Campus until 1958. In a referendum on May 30, 1958, the residents of Senior House voted to politically disassociate from East Campus, and spent the term setting up their own constitution.

In 1996, MIT embarked on a controversial renovation of Senior House. The walls between the six entries were demolished, unifying the dorm. However, in the process, many of Senior House's beloved murals were destroyed. Air conditioning was added, making Senior House the second dorm (after New House) to have it. Senior House was the only undergraduate dorm on campus to have both an elevator and air conditioning until Maseeh opened.