October 14, 2004

Assembly Discusses Housing

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The Student Assembly continued to grapple with off-campus housing issues at its meeting last Thursday.

Trustee Jackie Koppell ’05 suggested that a student housing board could be created specifically to help students with off-campus housing, offering services such as advising students what their rights are as tenants. She added that, eventually, Cornell law students could be incorporated into the committee, allowing them to provide informal advice on contracts.

Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’69, LeNorman Strong, assistant vice president of student and academic services, and Pamela Zinder, assistant director of housing and dining contracts, were present at the meeting. They discussed possible steps that could be taken in dealing with safety issues in off-campus housing.

Strong, as the chair of the campus life student advisory board, a committee consisting of student leaders and administrators, plans to explore existing remedies. He explained that students, staff and city representatives may be asked to join the discussion, and the committee will also examine other campuses dealing with similar issues.

Tim Lim ’06, executive vice president of the S.A., suggested moving the off-campus housing office from its current location in the Robert Purcell Community Center to an off-campus location, such as Collegetown.

Kwame Thomison ’07, chair of the residence and community life committee of the S.A., added that a website dedicated to information on off-campus housing was in the making, and that they were “hoping to get records from the city to publish them online.” Such records would include information on the history of the building unit and complaints against the landlord in question.

Zinder, however, said that publishing complaints by tenants against their landlords could lead to complications.

When asked whether the University was doing all it could to deal with this issue, Hubbell responded, “Speaking for myself, we should try to find ways to provide a safer place to live [in Collegetown]. … It is a resource issue, and we must think carefully about how to move forward. … We must move deliberately to make sure we are ensured success.”

Also at the meeting were delegates from the Cornell Sailing Team, who began a discussion regarding Cayuga Lake access. The lakefront property in front of Cayuga Lake, originally owned by Cornell Real Estate, is being leased to the Remington Inn and Restaurant, which plans to build a restaurant, an inn and a boathouse on it.

Members of the Cornell community, however, have objected to the proposed project. An online petition requesting a reconsideration of the project had garnered 1,040 signatures as of yesterday.

Cayuga Lake is the only nearby lake that docks could be installed on, said sailing ream member Whitney Patross ’05.

“We hope that Cornell will support students’ right to access Cayuga Lake,” Patross said. “We are lucky to have such a great resource. We hope current and future students will be able to enjoy it.”

A resolution regarding lake access will be presented to the S.A. at today’s meeting. Following the lake discussion, S.A. vice president of finance Josh Bronstein ’05 briefly updated the assembly on the recent allegations surrounding the Cornell Literary Society, which publishes the Cornell American. A hearing between the S.A. appropriations committee, the S.A. finance commission and the Cornell American was held late last Wednesday night until 1 a.m. Thursday morning.

After the hearing, a report was submitted to the University ombudsman. Bronstein explained that the ombudsman would then give a recommendation to the appropriations committee and a final decision would be made and released at that time.

Bronstein estimated that a decision would be reached sometime during the week. “The committee had a very fair and unbiased discussion,” Bronstein said. “The fact that the meeting went until 1 a.m. indicates the severity with which the committee takes this issue.”