Residential Life announced on Friday, Feb. 17 that the Community Learning Center (CLC) and Delta Upsilon (DU) were unsuccessful in their reapplication bids for residency in the three Academic Living Centers (ALC), which are located on the Fraternity Quadrangle.
Drama House was re-approved to continue residency during a probational period for the 2012-2013 academic year, while Sigma Phi Epsilon and the Douglass Leadership House (DLH) will replace CLC and DU.
This year, seven groups applied to live in the three academic living centers — the largest number of proposals ever received, according to Dean of the College Richard Feldman, who appoints a committee comprised of faculty, staff and students that reviews the applications. Groups can apply for a three-year period of residency.
“The committee considers all the proposals on an equal basis; the groups currently in the centers are not given preference,” Feldman said. “After reviewing the proposals, the committee judged that DU and CLC did not have proposals as strong as some of the other groups.”
Feldman added that there were many good proposals and that the committee “had to make difficult decisions” in assessing the merit of each of the proposals’ academic focus.
He noted, however, that he is optimistic about the ability of Drama House, CLC and DU to positively impact campus life.
“It’s important to keep in mind that there are groups housed within the residence halls that are able to succeed on campus as well,” he said.
Both CLC and DU have been in their houses since the start of the ALC process, which began in 2000, according to Director of Residential Life Laurel Contomanolis, who was appointed by Feldman to chair the committee.
Contomanolis said that the process was designed to give all groups a fair chance to have the opportunity to live in one of the houses and to execute an “academically focused program,” despite many students and CLC residents’ responses about the unfairness and incongruity of the decision.
“The committee’s focus was not on denying membership renewal,” Contomanolis said. “The focus was on selecting the groups who best represented the intent and spirit of an academic living center concept.”
Proposals for potential areas of academic focus can be very broad, according to Feldman. Groups can choose to focus on a wide array of areas such as leadership, the environment, the arts and social justice, among others. The committee also considers a group’s potential to engage with faculty and other students in lectures, discussion groups or other activities, Feldman said.
Despite what many students saw as the questionable selection of DLH, Contomanolis stressed that they prepared “a very well developed, academically focused program,” in fact the best proposal received, she said.
Contomanolis also said that the Greek or non-Greek affiliated status of groups was not something that specifically factored into the decision, though she said that the committee took into consideration the fact that, over the last three years, DU has had “numerous violations of the student code of conduct.”
Last April, DU was sanctioned by the University for violating UR’s policies on sexual harassment following an incident involving two not fully clothed students on the quadrangle. DU was not sanctioned following the fatal stabbing of UR student Jeffrey Bordeaux, Jr., which occurred at a DU party in January 2011, but was prohibited from holding any activities on campus following the April incident.
President of DU and junior Kyle Coapman said that the fraternity’s unsuccessful housing bid was not a “punitive motion” by UR and stressed that DU will continue to be “an integral part of campus life at UR” comprised of “a strong, resilient group” of brothers.
“We cannot speculate as to why each group was selected,” he added.
Both CLC and DU will remain in their current housing for the remainder of the academic year and have been offered the option of housing as a special interest housing group for next year, Contomanolis said.
Coapman said that DU is currently considering all options for housing and that the fraternity hopes to “have a communal living space.”
President of Sigma Phi Epsilon and junior Bjorn Ahbel said that the fraternity plans to establish a
“peer based leadership support hub and a welcoming learning environment” in the house. He also noted that the fraternity has amended its national fraternity model of “Building Balanced Men” to “Building Balanced Leaders” — a program that he said he hopes will motivate fellow students in academics, co-curricular activities and social settings.
Drama House was approved to live in its current house for the 2012-2013 academic year, but this will be a probation period; the house will have to re-apply in the fall of 2012 to remain in the house for the subsequent two years of the ALC period of residency.
According to Publicity Chair of Drama House and junior Hannah Bazarian, the administration acknowledges the essential role that Drama House plays in student theater on campus and wants to give the house the opportunity to prove that they can execute a more academically focused program and solidify the house’s identity as an entity separate from groups like TOOP and In Between The Lines (IBTL), which frequently use space in Drama House for events.
“We have a full plan for how to create a more academically focused program,” Bazarian said, adding that Drama House members were “shaken” by the news but remain generally confident that they can work to improve the organization.
Proposals for how to do so include hosting a weekly study hour and reinstating fireside chats, which Bazarian said were held in Drama House “all the time” in past years, but were discontinued. Fireside chats were traditionally held 19 times per semester and facilitated communication between professors, faculty and students.
Bazarian also said that Drama House plans to hold more workshops specifically sponsored by Drama House, rather than co-sponsored or affiliated with other student theater groups, as well as increase recruitment efforts.
CLC, according to its website, houses 30 “racially, ethnically, religious and experientially diverse students.” Its most important goal is to foster “a sense of community in both the University and the greater Rochester area through service, learning and cross-cultural dialogue.”
Many members of CLC see the administration’s decision as potentially destructive to what the group has worked to create over the years.
“I don’t think ResLife — or whoever ultimately made the decision — realized how much this could destroy the organization,” CLC webmaster and junior Leah Friess said. “We’re all definitely willing to work toward surviving as a group, but so much has to change that there’s not much guarantee of success.”
CLC kitchen manager and junior Greg Fox expressed similar feelings of disappointment.
“I am deeply saddened that the school has chosen to kick a vibrant and worthwhile organization off of its home base of operations after being in the house for so long,” Fox said. “We have rooted ourselves in this house, but we are going to prove to the University that we are still a vibrant organization and can earn the house back in the near future.”
CLC Secretary and junior Rebecca Holtzman said that attempting to appeal the administration’s decision, for which there is not a formal process, but which has been discussed among students, would mean “specifically rivaling Sigma Phi Epsilon,” when CLC has nothing against them.
“Our problems are really with ResLife and the administration,” she said. “At this point, we are just trying to figure out the future of our organization.”
CLC house manager and junior Veronica Prince stressed that much of CLC’s future is largely uncertain at the moment, though she said that the group has enough membership and interest to remain afloat. She added that many of CLC’s members are currently in favor of moving the group to a house off campus.
“We know that no matter what we decide, at least for the next year, there will be be both an on-campus and off-campus presence of the CLC,” she said.
Prince also noted that several groups who hold events in CLC are upset about the housing changes, such as Grassroots, the Music Interest Floor (MIF), Pride and Inter Class Living Community.
“I think this is a really unfortunate decision on the part of ResLife to replace CLC with another organization,” Grassroots co-president and sophomore Stanton Yuwono said.
Yuwono said that CLC has been “very accommodating” with providing space to Grassroots and that he foresees the decision’s effects reverberating across other campus community service and awareness groups that collaborate and co-sponsor programs with CLC.
“Grassroots shares a lot of values with the CLC and this has made collaborating with them very easy,” he said. “I find it really strange that the administration has decided to remove a successful organization that has contributed a lot to campus life and the greater Rochester area.”
Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.