The Student Assembly addressed housing for new students, Jessup Road construction, and financial aid at yesterday’s meeting and passed three important resolutions that could potentially affect many Cornellians.
The first resolution concerned University housing for new students. The second regarded the construction of a sidewalk for Jessup Road. The third recommended deferment or cancellation of University loans for students with extraordinary circumstances.
Housing is guaranteed to all freshmen as part of University policy, but there is a catch. In crunch years when the number of incoming students surpasses the carrying capacity of the dorms, freshmen can find themselves living in study lounges with as many as six other students for the first several weeks of the semester.
Currently, about forty Cornell freshmen still reside in temporary housing, and there is no easy solution to fixing this problem, according to Michael Bronstein ’02, vice president of public relations and undesignated at-large representative.
“This sort of situation happens more frequently than it should. And, if housing is backed up now, January freshmen will almost certainly feel the effects as well. Overflow in the fall leads to overflow in the spring,” Bronstein added.
“It is to the University’s fiscal advantage to operate at full working capacity,” Bronstein noted.
In discussing the Resolution Concerning University Housing for New Students, S.A. members focused their concerns on how to help students currently living in temporary housing while also limiting such room shortages in the future.
“The social and academic lives of freshmen are significantly affected by housing issues. The University’s role is to help its students,” said College of Arts & Sciences representative Kira Moriah ’03.
“The Reslife Committee is dedicated to addressing the housing situation, and we will work together to fix the problems,” said Reslife Chair Leslie Barkemeyer ’03, also the LGBTQ representative.
The next important step involves a housing forum scheduled to occur in the near future with Vice President of Student Affairs Susan Murphy ’73, Reslife Committee members, and students.
Turning their attention to campus safety, S.A. members next debated and passed a resolution regarding the construction of a sidewalk for Jessup Road.
Citing the tragic death of Michelle Evans ’01 and unsafe road conditions during the winter ice and snow, the S.A. members focused on the need to pay more attention to the safety of pedestrians around campus.
Especially affected by these potentially hazardous conditions are students taking classes in the Africana Center and those students living in the Eco-House and co-op communities.
According to Mark Riverra ’02, president of the Black Students of America. “Many students have expressed a concern for safety in going to and from the Africana Library.”
“It is quite frustrating to dodge cars when walking to class, especially at night,” said Terrence Liverpool ’02, who takes classes in the Africana Center.
“This issue has been on the table for a while, and there is no reason to keep pushing the decision back. It’s a sidewalk; it’s not that complicated,” Liverpool added.
Lastly, the S.A. addressed the long-standing issue of deferment of University loans for individuals with extraordinary circumstances.
“[This resolution] is common sense. It is standardizing the University with where the federal government and other colleges have already gone. To the students that it helps, it will make all of the difference in the world,” Student-Elected Trustee David Mahon ’01 said.
According to Mahon, this resolution is especially important for handicapped students that cannot work regular jobs.
Other S.A. members remained unconvinced that the benefits would outweigh the expenses.
“I am concerned about the cost that passing this resolution will bring to the rest of students on loans. In the long run, more students will be hurt than helped,” International Liaison At-Large Derrick Zandpour ’02 said.
“The interest rate question is not an issue. The financial aid office has indicated that interest does not apply for educational loans,” Bronstain said, addressing a common concern of S.A. members about interest rates rising in response to the change.
“It is fantastic — all students can know that the University cares. These resolutions have the potential to make a big difference,” Mahon concluded.
Before they can go into effect, all resolutions passed by the S.A. must be approved the University administration.
Archived article by Jennifer Roberts