July 18, 2018 | ° F

Residence Life seeks council input on housing

Sebs Governing Council

Photo by Nelson Morales |

Members of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences?Governing Council meet?Residence Life administrators last night in the Cook Campus Center about possibly bringing back priority housing.

Residence Life officials met with the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) Governing Council last night to discuss the future of housing for their constituents on Cook campus.

Executive Director for Residence Life Joan Carbone discussed the possibility of reinstating priority housing for School of Environmental and Biological Science students, which was removed in 2007 after the consolidation of undergrduate colleges and the creation of the School of Arts and Sciences.

“We can’t go back to what we were before,” she said. “But we also want to consider the needs of [School of Environmental and Biological Sciences] students.”

Angelica Otiepka, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior majoring in animal sciences, said many labs for her major are held after class hours. Some run from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. or from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. — times when buses are unavailable.

“The hours are ridiculous,” she said. “Plus, the areas are not well lit and I don’t feel safe walking there at night.”

Residence Life is considering priority housing for certain apartments, Carbone said.

“There isn’t the outcry there used to be, and 41 percent of SEBS students chose last year not to live on Cook campus,” she said.

Carbone said there is a cultural shift happening at the University.

“This year was the first year no one complained about not being on College Avenue and people have complained about not getting housing on Livingston,” she said.

Council President Zaid Abuhouran said many School of Environmental and Biological Sciences students chose to live off campus last year because they were unsure whether they would get housing on Cook campus.

Carbone said another reason not to implement widespread priority housing for School of Environmental and Biological Sciences students is that the University wants students to be able to live on any of the four campuses.

“There are two types of students we would want to save space for,” she said. “School of Environmental and Biological Sciences students who want to live with School of Arts and Sciences students, and also for students from Mason Gross and other schools.”

Associate Director of Administration and Graduate Students Bill O’Brien said the University currently has 14,000 beds for undergraduate students and 1,000 beds for graduate students. They are also adding 1,500 undergraduates on Livingston campus next year.

Carbone hopes that the new Livingston housing and the Busch Engineering Science and Technology Hall will drive more School of Arts and Sciences students to choose to live on campuses other than Cook campus.

Jennifer Komaiko, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, thought it would be better if Residence Life set aside a certain percentage of housing rather than specific residence buildings.

“I think there are students who would rather have a choice of multiple buildings,” she said. “I also think that 60 percent is a good number [to set aside for priority housing].”

Carbone and O’Brien said they did not know how priority housing will be implemented, but aim to set aside 50 percent of Cook campus residences for School of Environmental and Biological Sciences priority housing.

John Lee, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, asked if School of Environmental and Biological Sciences students could have a separate housing lottery process, but Carbone said this would be unfair to students in other schools.

But Residence Life is considering slight changes in the housing lottery process.

“One thing we are considering is to let a group of two apply for apartments, because there are people who want an apartment but don’t have a four-person group,” Carbone said.

O’Brien said Residence Life is also considering allowing off-campus students directly back into the lottery processes next year.

“Before off-campus students who wanted on-campus housing were considered in the waiting list period, but we are looking to change that,” he said.

Carbone said the reduction of the class of first-year students and the addition of housing will not necessarily reduce on-campus housing demand.

“Although President [Richard L.] McCormick spoke about reducing the number of incoming class, we might be accepting more transfer students,” she said.

Lee said he was glad Carbone and O’Brien came to speak at the council meeting.

“I’m happy they were open to come and listen to our suggestions,” he said. “I also think [Carbone] explained well why things are the way they are, and what ideas would work and would not work.”

By Tabish Talib

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