Hey Cynthia (and whoever else reads this)!
I made awesome friendships through the Bexley community. The relative lack of restrictions made it feel like our (the students’) territory, rather than some foreign space (how I feel in the more sanitary west-side dorms). This sense of ownership made it a lot more fun to hang around and get to know people, so a strong community formed.
What I didn’t realize is that these East-side communities would continue to provide support to those who lived there even after we graduated. My friend recently got a full-time engineering/design job through someone she met in Bexley. I lived in pika my senior year; I found absurdly affordable accommodations after moving to San Francisco through a pika alum (believe me, this was a miracle). This summer at Burning Man I met a bunch of 5th East alums who graduated over 10 years ago but still fly from all over the country to hang out with each other a couple times a year.
Obviously, the east-style life makes MIT a lot more bearable (even fun) for the yearly batch of eccentrics MIT will inevitably attract. But if you want to think in terms of students’ long-term wellbeing, know that these communities also provide opportunities, happiness, and meaning long after graduation.