Interim President Hunter Rawlings is working to ensure improved safety measures for students, off-campus staff and faculty renters living off-campus housing who he says “deserve no less.”
The ratings system, which is expected to be launched this summer, will “provide students with easy, online access to publicly available information regarding the safety features of a particular unit,” the statement read.
In creating this ratings system, University administrators have worked with the City of Ithaca to create a database that “incorporate[s] into [Cornell’s] existing off-campus housing online database a new, safety-focused online ratings system for all off-campus housing properties,” the statement read.
Rawlings said that they hoped this ratings system would encourage landlords to provide a “safe residential environment” for their tenants.
“The new system will recognize those landlords who are already doing their part, while incentivizing other landlords to voluntarily make safety-focused enhancements to their properties,” Rawlings said.
Rawlings explained that together with University leadership, they were motivated by concern that many off-campus housing options lacked basic modern safety features. Rawlings highlighted one such example in fire safety features.
“Fire safety standards are tied to the date a building was constructed,” Rawlings said. “So a building constructed in 1970 must only meet the 1964 fire safety code, rather than the 2015 code.”
While units must now be equipped with sprinklers and smoke detectors that communicate directly with the Ithaca Fire Department, the 1964 fire safety code did not mandate this safety feature.
Drawing from this example, Rawlings expressed hope that the new ratings system would “elevate the overall safety of off-campus housing.”
“The safety of our students’ housing options, both on and off campus, is not only a top priority for me and for University leadership; it is also a principle of the highest order,” Rawlings said.