The North Campus Residence Initiative (NCRI) is in its first year and “like any new project, you want to see how it’s doing,” said Dean of Students Kent L. Hubbell ’69.
In order to gain feedback from freshmen now living on North, Hubbell has begun meeting with staff and students in residence halls across North Campus.
Hubbell has met with students at about half of the residence halls so far, but hopes to see students at all of them before presenting their preliminary responses to the Board of Trustees at their meeting in May.
These informal meetings are “a first effort at finding out what’s going on,” Hubbell said.
Spending a few hours to talk with residence halls’ staff as well as the students on the Resident Hall Councils, he has been able to hear some initial reactions and suggestions.
As Amanda Erdman, residence hall director for Balch Hall said, “the opinions are varied. Some have constructive criticisms, others seem very happy.”
Some students like having a living environment away from upperclassmen.
“It’s nice not be criticized for being a freshman,” said Adam Daum ’05, the Clara Dickson/Multi-Cultural Living-Learning Unit Hall Congress president.
Others, like Bryant Tow ’05, Mary Donlon Hall Council member, feel the NCRI “somewhat alienates [freshmen] from the rest of campus and takes away opportunities to ask questions.”
Some staff members are also voicing concerns about the lack of upperclassmen guidance.
“Freshmen are just beginning to explore different life issues such as homesickness, relationships and sexuality, diversity and privilege issues,” said Gwynne Koch ’02, the Campus Life program assistant for Court Hall.
“Upperclassmen have already dealt with some of these issues and would provide an experienced prospective and act as mentors for the freshmen, encourage their social, emotional, and intellectual development,” she added.
On the other hand, Koch notes that “freshmen enjoy having all their friends in conveniently close proximity.”
Aninda Maitra ’02, a resident advisor for Mary Donlon Hall, thinks the NCRI was supposed to create unity among freshmen, but said, “I really don’t feel like there’s a lot of connection between the buildings on North Campus.” He felt that the “community feel of North Campus” was hurt by all of the attention given to Court and Mews Halls in the beginning of the year.
According to Hubbell, the meetings have been “really interesting,” and he noted that the NCRI is “an exciting investment for the Cornell community, [but it is] a work in progress.”
There are already many ideas for North Campus in the coming years, and more will probably come from future meetings.
Hubbell mentioned that Isaac Kramnick, vice provost for undergraduate education, has been working on a “Book Project” to be held in the Robert Purcell Community Center Auditorium.
He also said the administration is hoping to triple the number of Freshmen Writing Seminars held on North Campus, both in the mornings and afternoons.
Lastly, he mentioned plans for a student-faculty center that would be developed in the East wing of Balch Hall as a place for “students and faculty to talk about matters of common interest.”
For now, however, Hubbell is focused on meeting with all the North Campus Residence Halls before anything concrete is decided.
Archived article by Sun Staff