I could go on for hours about this (and sometimes do…). The fact that Senior House extolled creativity and weirdness during my time there (1975-1980) had long-lasting effects on my work. It gave me the confidence to say to prospective employers “I don’t know how to do that, but I learn fast and I know how to find out about it”. It helped me relate better with the weird engineers with whom I was going to work, and helped put them at ease with me. It reminded me that adulthood, while being very different than collegehood, could still have lots of valuable fun.
The begrudging, eye-rolling permissiveness of the MIT administration towards East Campus and Senior house during that period helped create a healthy atmosphere of growth for a lot of people. Yes, it’s easier to be authoritarian and enforce “safety” in students, but that creates a different kind of adult, one whom is less likely to be a creative researcher or leader. Putting more effort into patience (and even humor) pays off quickly as the students graduate.
It is common for me to come across alums who lived in other dorms who say, in one way or another, “I was afraid to switch to Senior House, but now I kinda wish I had”. That in and of itself speaks to the long-term benefits of letting the east side stay weird.