October 18, 2006

Students Object to Transfers Moving to Hasbrouck

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Hasbrouck apartments are about to take another hit, according to many of its current graduate residents. After approximately 30 undergraduates moved in this semester, it was announced earlier this week that the transfer student program would be moving to Hasbrouck for the 2007-2008 academic year. By next fall, of the 800 residents who live there, approximately one-third of them will be undergraduates.

“This will be a disruption for our way of life,” said Michael Gore grad, who has lived at Hasbrouck for three years. “Everyone around us has families and generally people with families understand what is going on when there are children around you. There’s just going to be a mixture of undergraduates in the Hasbrouck community that may not understand what it means to have children living with them and nearby them.”

In particular, Rafael Escalona grad has felt this move negatively impacts his way of life.

“It influences our intentions of having a family,” he said, after pointing out that for many months he and his wife had been planning for a child. According to Gore, approximately 175 children currently live with families in Hasbrouck.

“My fellow graduate students from outside the country come here in part to raise their families; it’s where we raise our children, where they grow up.” Gore said. “For Cornell to come in and not see how much we really value Hasbrouck — that is just sad for all of us.”

Aside from this complaint, many residents felt the move would exacerbate already existing problems.

“During homecoming weekend, the undergraduates had parties starting from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.,” said one graduate resident. “When a neighbor reported it to the Graduate Community Assistants, they haven’t yet dealt with it.”

Jie Zhu grad also thinks that mothers and their children would find the change a problem.

“Some of the spouses who are taking care of the children are worried that resources that are limited,” Zhu said. “At Hasbrouck there’s only one big room where people gather, and typically moms gather there to meet other moms. They’re worried now whether they’ll have to share it with the undergraduates, because obviously they’ll want to do different things with it.”

One resident cited the worsening situation with parking and crowded laundry rooms.

Escalona found the presence of undergraduates to be tolerable, and actually found Cornell’s approach toward informing them of the change to be the larger issue.

“The way this has been [communicated to us] is a problem,” Escalona said. “We actually think that bringing on the undergrads will change Hasbrouck, but in a good manner. The thing is that I have a feeling that the truth is not being presented. … I have a feeling that Hasbrouck will be overtaken by undergrads and the graduate community will be moved out. Campus Life works in profit-maximizing ways, and we feel they’re not providing support for us.”

“Cornell is not being 100 percent sincere,” another resident added. “It’s a diplomatic way to tell us to leave. … Like a ‘Thank you, but you’re not going to live here for long,’ and then push us out of the complex.”

This is of particular concern to many graduate students. The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly meeting this week began discussion on a proposal to ask Cornell housing if they would commit that the undergraduates would only be allowed to live at Hasbrouck for 2007-2008, according to Gore.

“The biggest concern is that there’s no guarantee that Hasbrouck will be converted back to graduate housing,” Zhu added. “What will we do then?”

According to Gore, many current graduate students who live in Hasbrouck have decided to move out of Hasbrouck because of the undergraduates.

“I probably will be moving out myself,” he said. “And the main reason is the undergraduates moving in.”

One of the first reasons Gore mentioned was the diversity that Hasbrouck has offered in the past: only 15 percent of its residents are from the U.S.

Although current Hasbrouck residents will not be kicked out, this change will mean fewer spots will be offered toward incoming graduate students.

“If you’re an international student, you don’t have a chance to come and look for an apartment beforehand. Hasbrouck is a very good option for international students, and it’d be nice if it remained the way it is,” Zhu said.

She mentioned that on the international student mailing list, international students living off-campus encounter many problems trying to deal with landlords in the area due to inexperience.