October 26, 2000

Housing Complaints Aired

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Cornell faculty, staff, and the students affected by the temporary housing discussed their concerns and goals last night at the Student Assembly Forum at Robert Purcell Community Center.

“The goal of this forum is to bring the concerns of the students in front of the administration and find some solution so that temporary housing ends,” said SA Vice President for Public Relations Michael L. Bronstein.

The forum began with an explanation of why temporary housing continues to pose a problem for the University, and what Cornell has done to alleviate the problem in the past.

“Each year we plan to have a freshman class of 3,000, but we must give out more acceptances than we expect to receive because students decide to attend other universities as well,” said Doris Davis, provost associate.

She stated that there has been an increasing percentage of students who are accepting offers, and that admissions cannot predict the increase.

“We have been making fewer offers each year, but planning the exact numbers for the freshman class takes a little bit of art and a little bit of science,” Davis stated.

After the brief dialogue between members of the panel, the discussion was opened to members of the audience.

Heather Miller ’04 expressed frustration with her situation in temporary housing. “I was given three days to sign a permanent housing contract and was told I had to move out of my room by the following Monday. I had prelims at this time and had little time to react,” she said.

Replying to Miller’s comments, LeNorman J. Strong, assistant vice president of student and academic services, and Peggy Beach, associate director of marketing for Campus Life, apologized for Miller’s inconvenience and proposed to follow up on her individual case.

Residential advisor David Roth ’03 raised issues concerning the safety of the quads which were transformed into rooms for five people.

Joe M. Regenstein, Professor of Food Science and faculty fellow of Jameson, asked the members of the panel why the lounges were not prepared with cable and computer connections when it was realized that their use would be needed.

Strong stated that complications such as the strike at Verizon prevented the needed installations.

“This is something we will be more prepared for in the future,” said Strong.

Other students voiced their concern at the effects of next year’s housing policy on upperclassmen, reacting to the University’s decision to guarantee housing to sophomores, as well as freshman, for the first time next fall.

Doris Wang ’03 and Aron Rosenberg ’02 both stated the disadvantage this would bring to the upperclassmen.

“Last year as a rising sophomore I got the worse picks. This year what you are saying is that students may have to be forced to live off campus,” said Wang.

Beach stated that juniors and seniors would be given first choice, although the numbers would be limited for the students because of the guarantee of housing for sophomores.

“Not all sophomores will choose to live on campus,” Beach added.

“The demand for housing has increased over the years and we have never been able to meet all these demands. The University began with a president who did not believe in on campus housing, and we have been trying to catch up ever since,” said Susan Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services.

Aron Rosenberg raised his aggravation with having freshmen occupy the townhouses on North Campus, which had long been geared for upperclassmen.

“The people living in the townhouses do not want to move,” Rosenberg said.

To this comment, Don King, director of community development for Campus Life, replied that the townhouses are needed to meet the North Campus Initiative, which calls for all freshman to live on North Campus by the fall 2001. He said that freshman would be allowed to choose three roommates if they wished to make their experience living in the townhouses easier.

“We will treat the townhouses like we treat the dorms and will try to help the freshman accommodate to the settings,” said King.

Regenstein felt this plan may undermine the goal of student diversity of the North Campus Initiative. “Having students choose three roommates to live with in an already isolating setting seems to go against this goal,” he said.

King agreed and said that Campus Life would work to prevent such an obstacle.


Archived article by Jamie Yonks