The 2005 Class Council presented its recommendation to move freshman housing this fall at the Freshman Advisory Committee meeting yesterday. The proposal suggests that the freshmen live in a combination of Susan B. Anthony and Gilbert and Hoeing Halls, leaving the rest of the Residential Quad open for upperclassmen.
Last week, the 2005 Class Council held a meeting in which the majority voted in favor of the change. Though most of the 2005 Class Council supports the idea of freshman housing, they feel that there are a number of issues raised by the current arrangements that need to be addressed.
According to the proposal, class segregation ? not only for freshmen, but for all classes ? is created by housing freshmen exclusively on the quad. The proposal alleges that this segregation of classes is dangerous for overall college unity and that the effect will carry over to upcoming years.
“The current situation decreases the opportunity for this year’s freshmen to meet new people our sophomore year,” 2005 Class Council president Jesse Bailey said.
Junior and Crosby 2 Residential Advisor David Feil-seifer agreed that the influence of upperclassmen is valuable. “Upperclassmen provide diversity, experience and can help freshmen find things to do in Rochester,” he said.
Another point of the proposal is the belief that the Quad lacks common areas for all freshmen. The proposal suggests that the lack.
Those in favor of changing the location of freshmen housing are not opposed to floor unity, but worry that it jeopardizes a larger sense of unity throughout the entire Quad. Friel-Seifer said he has noticed increased floor unity, but that it is “unification without direction.”
The third point cited by the proposal as a reason for restructuring is the obliteration of the sense of seniority that normally exists.
The proposal suggests that the current freshman housing structure “creates a system in which the quality of one’s housing is somewhat downgraded” as students progress from freshmen to seniors. “The ideal system would be for increased options as you go through the system,” said Bailey.
The minority of the 2005 Class Council, who voted against changing freshman housing, drafted a dissenting opinion to the majority’s proposal in which they asserted that the goals set by the Residential College Commission Report on Residential life have been met.
Among these objectives were to enhance school spirit and create a “feeling of community that will follow each class through the college.” The dissenting opinion states that according to Quad RA’s and D’Lions, “the spirit of the Class of 2005 is noticeably higher than that of preceding classes.”
Freshman and member of the 2005 Class Council Peter Francis argued that the increase in class unity is beneficial. “In the long run, freshman housing [on the Quad] will be very helpful. There will be an increase in class unity from the beginning that will continue through graduation ,” he said.
Freshman and member of 2005 Class Council Meghan Schubmehl said that the absence of upperclassmen creates a bond between members of the freshman class. “When freshmen don’t have upperclassmen, they immediately turn to other freshmen,” she said.
The dissenting opinion also said that if freshmen are split between the Quad and Sue B., a division in the class may occur. According to the dissention, “students would identify with the area in which they live before identifying with their class or the university.”
The rebuttal states that splitting the freshmen will not increase freshmen interactionwith upperclassmen. They argue that freshmen “feel more comfortable getting to know their own classmates.”
The dissenting opinion believes that putting freshmen on the Quad provides easy access for various groups to do recruiting. The rebuttal also states that “freshman enrollment in various clubs has increased this year in comparison to past years.”
Junior and Quad RA Suzanne Decker believes that freshman enrollment in special interest groups has gone down. “Freshmen are not getting involved and we are having more discipline problems this year,” she said.
The rebuttal view also cites an eventual increase in alumni support as a reason to preserve freshman housing.
Programming is key
Freshman housing will exist next year. It is the location that is in question. Regardless of the conclusion that is reached by the committee, both sides agree that programming will be important in making the idea of freshman housing work. “Either way we go, programming will be essential,” Bailey said. “We need to establish a plan for long term programming.”
Schubmehl agreed. “Programming is key. If all freshmen are on the Quad, upperclassmen will be willing to come over for programs.”
Other students felt that programming on the Quad has been difficult this year. Friel-Seifer felt that upperclassmen have been hesitant to plan programs on the Quad because it is geographically isolated from the rest of campus.
Other class councils weighed in on the decision. The Senior Class Council made a list of positive results of moving freshman housing.
They said that it would be beneficial for upperclassmen to live on the Quad and that moving freshman housing would open more single rooms for upperclassmen. They also said that they believe it would be better for freshmen to be “closer to the football field and library than the Fraternity Quad.”
The 2003 class council submitted a mixed response. They believe that positive results of altering freshman housing according to the suggested idea would allow students from all classes an opportunity to live on the Quad and would make freshmen less isolated.
Their list of negative results included a concern for defeating the original purpose of freshman housing and a worry that the freshman class would be split.
Sophomore and member of the 2004 class council Andrew Baukney drafted a response to the proposed changes. He believes that the proposal is unfair because there was a lack of input from classes other than the freshmen.
He believes that the current system of freshman housing should remain intact. “It would be hasty to do away with freshman housing on the Quad without giving it a chance,” he said.
He also said that the proposal may be driven out of self-interest. “Jesse Bailey, the President of the Class of 2005, stated ‘It makes little sense for freshmen to have great housing and then lose it.’ If you replace the word freshmen with the word me, you read ‘It makes little sense for me to have great housing and then lose it,'” he wrote.
Bailey said that this is about a solution to freshman housing, not about personal attacks.
The administrators were pleased with the dialogue that took place. “I think we had a great discussion,” said Dean of The College William Green. “Issues were brought to the tabletoday and people are thinking them through.”
Interim Dean of Students at The College Jody Asbury sees this problem as one in which the decision is to put a plan in place and test it for a length of time or be immediately responsive to human issues. “Higher education has a duty to be responsive,” she said. “I would rather err on the side of responding to human needs.”
Assistant Dean of Learning Assistance and member of the Freshman Advisory Committee Vicki Roth praised student involvement. “I couldn’t have been more delighted to see so many briefs prepared by different student groups,” she said. “A lot of the credit for this respectful dialogue is due to the current UR student leadership.”
The discussion will be continued at the committee meeting next week.
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