October 7, 2003
Robert Purcell Maintenance Continues
| October 7, 2003
Robert Purcell Community Center (RPCC) has been under construction since the beginning of the fall semester. The repair project, which began in mid-August and is expected to continue through July 2004, is designed to fix the cracking concrete on the building’s exterior walls.
The project will not add to or change the building’s current programmed use. According to General Manager of Facilities Dale Walter, “The RPCC concrete repair project will undertake corrective actions to fix concrete cracking that is occurring in the exterior beams.”
The budget estimate for the RPCC repair project is $1.5 million; the budget projection has already been met.
Work on the community center will cease over the winter months and commence again during early spring. The construction has created a moderate inconvenience for students, faculty members and employees. Darren Schlissel ’07, a frequent user of the facility, said, “I have a writing seminar in RPCC and the construction can be quite distracting.”
Coordinators of the project, however, feel that this past summer was an ideal time to start. According to Walter, there is currently sufficient funding available for the construction, as well as a schedule that will allow good access to the building.
The administration has found it difficult to avoid disruptions, but feels these disruptions are worth the benefit of a safer and well-maintained structure. When the work is complete next fall, differences in the building’s appearance may not even be noticeable. The project, according to Walter, was initiated for practical rather than aesthetic purposes.
“As with many planned maintenance projects, the work being performed will not be a noticeable one to the users, but it will insure that the RPCC building structure will be sound and a useable building for many years in the future,” he said.
The repair project is running smoothly so far, according to Project Manager Peter Paradise. Paradise, who has been overseeing the construction, expressed his satisfaction with the work’s progress. He said, “The weather has been cooperative and we’ve made good progress. Everything is going as planned.”
Archived article by Missy Kurzweil
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October 8, 2003
More than half a year after the Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) launched initiatives against the sale of drug paraphernalia, Ithaca’s head shops are showing no sign of giving up their business. The operations, nicknamed Headhunter and Pipe Dreams, have already brought more than 55 indictments, including the much-publicised arrest of Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong fame, who received nine months of prison time and a large fine for peddling his wares. Stores on the Ithaca Commons, however, aren’t letting the DEA strong-arm them. They claim that their pipes are only intended for tobacco and other legal substances. “We’re going to stay open until they close us down, because we’re not selling anything illegal,” an employee at one store said. A 3-D Light clerk expressed similar views. “You can’t tell me what that’s going to smoke,” he said, referring to a waterpipe on display. The stores, however, seem to disagree on the effect that the DEA’s operations will have on their business. Immediately after the initiative began, rumors spread that stores in Ithaca would stop selling pipes and other paraphernalia, causing prices to fluctuate. Prices have since stabilized, but a Commons store employee said that customers are still confused. “Every single person [who comes in],” she said, “90 percent will be like, ‘what’s happening?'” She says that concern about the store’s future has bumped up business as customers hurry to purchase products before the government threatens to close down the stores. The clerk at 3-D Light, however, disagreed, stating that customers are not worried or do not know about the possible threat. Other stores contacted in the Ithaca area refused to comment to The Sun, citing a need to remain cautious in light of the crackdown. The DEA’s operations have been a matter of controversy from the start. Officials in the Department of Justice insist that water pipes and bongs are clearly intended primarily for the consumption of illegal drugs, but pipe sellers disagree. A store employee questioned how the government can claim that such products are intended for marijuana when plenty of legal substances, such as salvia and sage, are primarily smoked out of such products. Further, every time she sells a waterpipe or other smoking device, she offers the customer a legal substance. Approximately half of her customers take her up on her offer. The DEA’s operations have brought indictments across the nation, from Pennsylvania to Oregon. They have also focused heavily on online stores. Attorney General John Ashcroft, in a press release issued Feb. 24, 2003, said that “with the advent of the Internet, the illegal drug paraphernalia industry has exploded,” adding that the industry has “invaded the homes of families across the country without their knowledge.” According to Operation Pipe Dream’s website, drug paraphernalia is defined under federal law as “those products that are primarily intended or designed to be used in ingesting, inhaling or otherwise using controlled substances.” Asked about the war on drugs in general, the clerk at 3-D Light noted that certain drugs, such as pharmaceuticals, are very harmful, and suggested that the government is not doing enough to curb abuse of these substances. He added that certain states, such as Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, are stricter than others. The Commons employee was more vocal: “John Ashcroft should have a water pipe strapped to him and he should be force-fed marijuana, see if it’s so bad. And he should have to smoke until he’s high.” This source added that marijuana has many beneficial effects. Hemp, she said, could save our environment since one tree can be replaced by four hemp plants, and its oil could save us from our natural resource deficiencies. She also noted that marijuana helps get rid of stress, which she said is the cause of 70 percent of illnesses. Both she and the clerk at 3-D Light are in favor of the legalization of marijuana. “I definitely wish there was a way to end the drug war,” she said, adding that her already precarious position as an employee in a store that sells waterpipes prevents her from taking a more vocal role. For now, however, the stores do not have any plans to halt sales or take any other steps. For 3-D Light at least, it’s just “business as usual.”Archived article by Yuval Shavit
October 8, 2003
Decisions concerning the West Campus Residential Initiative (WCRI) do not come easily, even to members of the West Campus Planning group, who decided to eliminate a transfer center from future housing plans. The decision was a controversial one, but the committee, made up of students, faculty and administrators, ultimately came to the conclusion that transfer students would transition more quickly and fully into the community through integrated living conditions, rather than separated in an isolated building. In “A Vision for Residential Life,” written on May 9, 2000, the committee stated its decision to eliminate a building housing only transfer students, saying, “the committee believes that upperclass transfer students have special needs that can best be addressed within the House system, rather than in a separate transfer center. We therefore recommend that the needs of transfer students should be met through programming in the living-learning houses.” The current transfer center in the Class of 1917 houses about 190 of the 400 transfer students who live in university housing each year. Those not assigned to the transfer center live in program houses on North Campus, traditional residence halls on West Campus or in Collegetown. The transfer center will remain intact and functioning until January 2009, when the Class of 1917 building will be demolished as part of the final phase of the residential initiative. Under the new housing system, which will be complete in 2010, transfer students will be assigned in smaller groupings, such as a suite or cluster of transfer students within a house. According to Jean Reese, WCRI project leader, “we are not dismantling the transfer center. We’re distributing the transfer center and integrating it within all five houses.” Reese stressed that transfer students will continue to have access to programming exclusively for transfers, including the well-established orientation program currently offered each year. “When West Campus is completely up and functioning, transfers will be dispersed in all five houses,” said Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services. Murphy expressed the idea that none of the new program houses scheduled to be built on West Campus would have a particular predetermined theme. “Through the house system, there is an opportunity for smaller communities to develop,” she added. Edna R. Dugan, assistant vice president, student and academic services and co-chair of the West Campus council, agreed that the services currently in place for transfers will still be available. Because the structural plans were laid out two years ago, she explained, they can work to develop the more specific needs of students while the initial plans are being carried out. “We have time to work out the issue in that we can make sure the needs of the transfer students are met in a holistic way,” she said. Don King of the campus life management office said that many of the services currently available to transfer students will be in place under the new house system. An assistant dean will develop programming for transfer students, and a room will be made available for students to use as a gathering place and as a resource. King said the programming will be both “educational and social, helping them adjust to the Cornell community.” Students have a variety of reactions to the planned living arrangements for future transfers. Jackie Bernstein ’04, said that her Cornell experience has been strongly influenced by the friendships she made in the transfer center, and the community that it created for its residents. “I think that living in [the transfer center] was the greatest thing I possibly could have done. I had all of these other people who were going through the same experience as me,” Bernstein said. She worried that mixing the transfer students with upperclassmen would not provide these students with the same sense of community that she experienced. Brian Schartz ’04 had a very different experience. He chose to live in Risley Residential College instead of the transfer center because he did not want to feel like a transfer student, but like a Cornell student. He became involved on campus and was able to make friends and become a part of the community through his activities and personal interests. “I think I’m a better student for not having lived there,” he said. He acknowledged the importance of the center, however, for others who might have a greater need for transition and an immediate sense of community, such as those coming to Cornell from a community college. Even more controversial than the elimination of a transfer center is the plan under the WCRI for a parking lot on West Campus. The parking lot, which would occupy the block below Stewart Avenue and above University Avenue, has been strongly opposed by Cornell students and Ithaca residents, many of whom will be affected by any construction, traffic and lighting brought about from future developments. Earlier this year, Cornell sued the City of Ithaca Planning Board under Article 78, when the planning board did not approve the WCRI’s proposed parking lot. Under the article, the case could be brought to the New York Supreme Court if necessary and gives a judge the opportunity to reverse the government’s decision after reviewing the case. The status of the proposed lot is currently up in the air until a Supreme Court judge notifies the Planning Board of a decision. There is no deadline for the judge’s response. The judge issued a statement in August and gave the city of Ithaca until Sept. 15 to respond in writing if they chose to make a stronger case for their concerns and objections to the project. According to Reese, the Planning Board rejected the plans for the parking lot with “continued concern over whether Cornell University effectively mitigated the environmental impacts on historic resources, lighting and vegetation.”Archived article by Stephanie Baritz