April 6, 2001

S.A. Briefed on Proposal to Alter Willard Straight Hall

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The face of the Straight may change in the near future. At last night’s Student Assembly meeting, members of the Willard Straight Hall Space Committee approached S.A. representatives and briefed them on a proposal to change the appearance and function of the building.


“Storage is a big issue, especially in the past few years,” said Joseph Scaffido, associate dean of students for student activities. Both students and faculty served on the committee.

Scaffido explained that surveyors inspected the entire building and examined how the space is currently appropriated.

“We wanted to see how the space was actually utilized.”

The committee was assembled after repeated complaints of a lack of storage space in the building. However, this is an issue that effects more than just the addition of filing cabinets.

Student Workers

The proposal presented to the assembly touches upon issues such as cutting the number of student workers employed at the Straight, maintaining the historic integrity of the building, decreasing the amount of space allotted to students and locating a new home for the LGBTQ center.

Specifically, the committee proposed gutting the 5th floor pool and T.V. room, placing partitions on the floor and turning it into office space. There was also suggestions that the main floor be made more welcoming and accessible by turning it into an environment not unlike student unions at other universities, by keeping certain doors open at all times and adding more computer terminals.

“We want a more open hearts, open doors feeling,” said Linda Reynolds, manager of building services.

“We all agree that the 5th floor pool room is a beautiful space but greatly under-utilized. We are discussing using it as a student resource center with partitions and student organizations could have access to that,” said Reynolds.

Scaffido also stressed the inefficient use of spaces such as the Straight library. “A lot of it’s use is sleeping,” he said.

In response, Michael Wacht ’02 Art, Architecture and Planning Representative asked, “I wonder if you have any space reserved for sleeping, for those students who want to just come and relax.”

In response, Scaffido said, “We want an activity center, however we’re not touching the International Lounge or the Music Room.”

Reynolds discussed the impact on student workers. “This does mean a loss of student positions. $6,000 in student wages would be saved,” said Reynolds.


Cornell students may soon find that they have expanding eating options. Vice President Scott Frye and Director of Marketing Larry Rubin of University Meal Deals gave a brief presentation of the program, and attempted to answer concerns raised by the assembly.

“University Meal Deals is a prepaid debit card,” explained Frye. Their program has already been implemented at Boston College, Boston University, University of Maryland College Park, and most recently, Ithaca College. A number of Cornell students are also already using the new meal plan.

“We offer it to anyone. You don’t have to be a student or part of the faculty. We feel we have a valuable service and we need to get our message out to the students,” said Rubin.

There was concern from various members that the program would detract from the current Cornell dining service.

“How does the University Meal Deal offer anything different than having a credit card? I’ll tell you straight up that I don’t like it,” said P.K. Agarwalla, new student representative.

“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But with a credit card you don’t get a discount or get registered for the prizes,” countered Rubin.

The program features one restaurant a week at which students can receive a 10 percent discount on their meal. Eating at the designated restaurant also automatically enters the student in a weekly drawing for various prizes.

“How can you say you’re not competing with Cornell dining?” asked Agarwalla.

“We target students eating at local off-campus dining,” explained Rubin. He stated that they did not specifically aim to recruit freshmen or those students who have a University meal plan.

Archived article by Christen Eddy