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
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
October 8, 2003
In light of an accident involving a bicyclist and pedestrian on Ho Plaza last week, the issue of bicycle safety has become increasingly significant on the Cornell campus. Like nearly any city or town, interactions between pedestrians and motorists will always present problems, but the typical college campus must also be prepared to accommodate a significant number of bicyclists. As it becomes more difficult to find parking on campus and as students deal with classes that meet in a variety of locales, bicycles have become a popular means of transportation. “I wish bicycle riders would adhere to the rules of the road … because of my numerous run ins with bicyclists I wear protective gear to shield myself from bodily injury,” said Diana Cartwright ’06. Indeed, it is the “mix,” as Sgt. Chuck Howard of the Cornell University Police Department (CUPD) coins it, that causes the largest number of safety issues on the campus. A veteran of more than 30 years, Howard has seen the number of motor vehicles, bicycles and students all rise steadily. “Too many people, too many bicycles, too many pedestrians,” he said. “It’s the overall mix that causes the problem.” Sue Marrow, an administrator with transportation and mail services, who has dealt extensively with transportation issues on campus, agreed. “As the campus builds up,” said Marrow, “it becomes more difficult to get where you’re going.” “There’s no easy solution [to the size problem],” Sgt. Howard said. “Unless you have a total pedestrian campus, [eliminating transportation problems] just can’t be done.” In response to problems created by new people and new buildings, efforts have been stepped up in multiple areas to combat traffic problems. Dan Lieb ’89, communications and marketing manager for transportation and mail service, said “We do postering, we do newspaper ads, we have a brochure we produce.” Also, according to Marrow, her department teaches courses in bicycle safety that range from three to 12 hours and help people who are not experienced with riding in congested areas make that transition. Perhaps as significant of a problem as the sheer volume of students on roads and pathways is a lack of knowledge on the part of cyclists. “If a person wants to drive an automobile, they have to study, they have to practice and they have to pass a test,” pointed out Sgt. Howard. “Anyone can buy a bicycle and ride it on their own. You can be ignorant [about safety rules] and just start riding.” “One thing that quite a few cyclists don’t seem to realize is that municipal laws in most of the state prohibit cyclists on pedestrian walkways,” Marrow said. In New York state, cyclists are, with few exceptions, governed by the same rules as motorists. “If you run a stop sign,” said Sgt. Howard, “the penalty will be the same whether you’re on a bike or in a car.” Violations that occur on the shared walkways between pedestrians and cyclists, however, are referred to the Judicial Administrator, where fines and/or community service are the usual penalties. Marrow and Lieb agree that many of the bicycle accidents that occur on campus may just be a result of cyclists’ unwillingness to abide by the rules — whether they are aware of them or not. “The reality is that it’s not really dangerous if everyone follows the rules,” Marrow said. “The campus, as designed, is certainly safer than most areas,” Lieb added. “Because everything can’t be enforced at the same time, [safety] has a lot to do with cooperation.” Sgt. Howard is a strong believer that “enforcement should be a deterrent.” Though the CUPD has received grants from the State to increase traffic safety programs, it is simply impossible for them to catch all of the bicycle violations that occur on a daily basis. Sgt. Howard, Marrow and Lieb all agreed that these violations lie at the heart of the problem. Police department statistics provided by Sgt. Howard offer puzzling trends. On the one hand, the number of personal injury accidents involving motorists have decreased from 32 in 1999 to 22 in 2002. At the same time, accidents between motorists and cyclists have risen from three in 1998 to five in 2000, before ballooning to ten in 2002. Sgt. Howard attributed these numbers to improvements in vehicle safety that have coincided with an increase in traffic: while injuries are occurring less then, it seems that accidents are occurring more. Whatever the trends are, Sgt. Howard stressed that accidents involving cyclists account for a “relatively low” percentage of the overall accidents on campus, which are usually in the neighborhood of 225 to 250 per year. Without fail, the experts all seem to agree that the best piece of advice they can offer to cyclists is to wear a helmet. Lieb has spoken with many very experienced cyclists who all reported that, “It’s not a matter of if you’ll get in a crash someday, it’s a matter of when.” “If you don’t wear a helmet, you’re doing yourself a great injustice,” Howard said. “It’s absolutely ludicrous that people go out and buy a $700 dollar helmet and won’t buy a $35 helmet.” “If you’ve got a brain that got you into Cornell,” Marrow added, “it’s worth protecting.” Archived article by Billy McAleer