Senate discusses updated housing policy
Mary Bernard | Thursday, November 2, 2017
The Notre Dame student senate spent most of their weekly meeting discussing the new University housing policy, announced via email Sept. 13, requiring students to live on campus for six semesters beginning with the class of 2022.
“As senate, since we’re the most representative body of the student body, we may not be able to change the University’s policy, but I think we can still do our job in stating our views and also potentially advise what it might look like,” King Fok, Club Coordination Council president, said.
Patrick Paulsen, a proxy representing Morrissey Manor, said he has “not talked to a single person that likes this policy.”
“In Father Jenkin’s letter, he says the intent of this policy is to keep seniors on campus, and I think it’s very obvious that this policy is going to drive more seniors off campus in the future,” Paulsen said. “… It’s appalling that the administration seems to not care for students.”
Sibonay Shewit, student body vice president, said it was important to exhibit emotional restraint.
“It’s much, much harder to get things done when we approach it with anger,” Shewit said.
Ryan Hall senator Claire Saltzman, among others, also took issue with the method of announcement.
“I think one of the things that upset me the most other than the actual content of the policy was how it was told to all of us,” Saltzman said. “We received an email at midnight and was told there was a town hall the next day. It came out of nowhere, and I think we should hold the University responsible and call them out on how awful it was.”
Sophomore class president Joseph Witt said Student Affairs did not take the announcement lightly and considered many options before deciding on the email.
Fok said he wondered if the policy was going to accomplish the goals of Student Affairs.
“Having the three year policy, is that ensuring what they wanted in terms of dorm culture and dorm life?” Fok said. “I think if they want to be our landlord and be our university, then we should definitely make them accountable and even demand more as a student senate.”
Many issues with dorm life must be addressed to make students willing to spend six semesters on campus, Fok said. Those issues include discrepancy in dorm and dining hall quality, the prevalence of sexual assault, fair enforcement of rules, dorm diversity, inclusion and drug and alcohol regulation.
“There are so many avenues that we can approach this with, even if we are not tackling the policy head-on,” Fok said. “And I think this is where our role is. We need to voice what we want to make this look like. If we are staying on, what does the University have to do to meet us halfway?”
The group discussed possible next steps, including a letter expressing their thoughts to Student Affairs, polls of student opinions, a report suggesting reviews to the policy and a peaceful protest outside of the Main Building. They said they hope to have a plan of action before Thanksgiving break.