September 10, 2004

S.A. Proposes Solutions for Off-Campus Housing Issues

Print More

In a swift move to address the recent incidents of inappropriate activity in Collegetown, the Student Assembly met yesterday and resolved to cooperate with the Ithaca Common Council and the Cornell administration to work toward improvements in off-campus housing.

The S.A. passed a resolution to explore possible funding options for the creation of a comprehensive online off-campus database of housing records. Common Council member Michael Taylor ’05 (D-4th Ward) noted in particular that such a database could include the records of the building unit and complaints against the landlord in question, and that such records numbered in the “tens of thousands” but are currently kept in storage.

Unfortunately, Taylor pointed out, the city is severely under budget, citing its struggle to pay Cornell students’ work-studies, and in its current state, unable to take on such a project. Increased S.A. involvement could offset the cost necessary to pay for the creation of such a database.

Another proposal was to move the office of off-campus housing to better serve the students. The office is currently located in the Robert Purcell Community Center, where, for the majority of students, it is difficult to access.

Tim Lim ’06, executive vice president of S.A., said that “the office of off-campus housing is probably one-tenth the size of [Memorial Hall], and one-tenth the size of [the S.A.’s budget]. It could be a pragmatic decision to move the office off-campus and increase its budget.”

This resolution regarding off-campus housing, co-sponsored by Josh Bronstein ’05, vice president of finance, and Jackie Koppell ’05, senior student elected trustee, passed with no opposition.

Lim said, “With the passing of this resolution, we’ve finally taken a proactive role in the issue of off-campus housing. We are more able to give the resources they need to deal with this problem.”

Bronstein encouraged open dialogue about the issue throughout the meeting, acknowledging that it was a “controversial issue,” but that S.A. involvement was unprecedented. “This could be a fruitful use of S.A. money,” Bronstein said.

Common Council member Gayraud Townsend ’05 (D-4th Ward) noted that several years ago the S.A. had an off-campus life committee, as a sub-committee of its current ResLife committee, which worked on housing initiatives in the off-campus area. He suggested that the ResLife committee could be divided into two committees, one working primarily on off-campus housing and the other on on-campus.

“Collegetown looks raggedy, even though it is the gateway to the University,” Taylor said. “Our work here could contribute to improving its appearance as well.”

The S.A. meeting also dealt briefly with rumors that Napster was currently being funded by the assembly. The Napster service is currently being funded by an “unrestricted gift to Cornell University,” according to Michelle Fernandes ’06, vice president of public relations.

The S.A. emphasized that the budget for Napster next year would be made available later in the year. It will be determined by the Napster committee, which is open to feedback from students.

Later in the discussion of Napster, Bronstein said, “The administration may chip in for Napster [next year]. There is some talk that CIT may also help cover the financial cost.”

Additionally, in response to growing concerns about duplicate student organizations on campus, the S.A. brought a resolution to the table proposing the suspension of the financing procedures for those particular groups.

Lim said, “These are groups that have the same executive boards and the same mission statements as previously existing organizations on campus.”

The resolution was passed and it was decided that the Student Assembly Finance Commission would recommend and deal with cases of duplication.

Archived article by Julie Geng
Sun Contributor