- Chairman of the Board of Trustees John Luke, Jr. issues an October 16 Charge to the Lawrence Community from the Board of Trustees initiating a comprehensive review of residential life at Lawrence, with the goal of "determining if current policies and practices in this area are consistent in furthering Lawrence's mission of liberal education and suggesting specific ways in which the college can ensure that the residential life experience contributes vigorously to the intellectual, personal, and social development of Lawrence students and the overall quality of campus life for all members of the Lawrence community."
- The Board of Trustees commissions its Committee on Student Affairs to design and oversee the review of residential life and to work with the president of the university to convene a task force comprising representatives from all segments of the Lawrence community.
- A special section of the Lawrence University Web site is created to post communications from the Trustees and progress reports from the Task Force on Residential Life.
- An article in the Spring 1999 issue of Lawrence Today titled "Residential Life Task Force: A Longer and Larger Look," announces the creation of the Task Force on Residential Life, identifies its members, and states that periodic progress reports will be posted on the Lawrence University Web site.
- On May 15, Jeffrey Riester, Board Vice Chair and Trustee Liaison to the Task Force on Residential Life, issues a Progress Report to the Lawrence Student Body on the Work of the Task Force on Residential Life. The progress report outlines a timeline for the Task Force's work and identifies the main focus of its inquiry:
"In setting more specific directions for its work, the Task Force has decided that it will focus primarily on the student experience of residential life. While other topics (admissions, retention, athletics, the role of alcohol, etc.) might be considered to have an impact on residential life, the Task Force has concluded that its work will best serve the trustees' purposes if the focus is confined primarily to issues, unmet needs, and aspirations in the three areas mentioned above (housing, food services, and community life)."
- A version of the first progress report, titled "Residential Life Study Begins," is printed in the Summer 1999 issue of Lawrence Today.
- On October 21, Trustee Liaison Jeffrey Riester issues a Second Progress Report on the Work of the Task Force on Residential Life. The report describes "benchmarking" site visits to Ripon, St. Norbert, and Grinnell Colleges, the development of a student survey, and plans for "listening sessions" with parents and alumni. The report includes a public announcement of a Statement of Principles developed by the Task Force and approved by the Trustee Committee on Student Affairs.
- A "listening session," organized by Task Force members and the Alumni Office, is held at the Minneapolis Club to solicit the views of alumni in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.
- At its January meeting, the Board of Trustees reviews an Interim Report of the Task Force on Residential Life.
- On January 21, the Board of Trustees issues an Addendum to the Charge from the Lawrence University Board of Trustees to the Task Force on Student Residential Life, in which the Trustees endorse the Statement of Principles developed by the Task Force and charges the Task Force to develop a detailed plan for residential life in keeping with the established principles and a timetable for its implementation.
The Board states that it "endorses the following working principles on equity: 1) Lawrence students may freely associate and form student groups and organizations of their own choosing (including Greek-letter social organizations); 2) The allocation of college-owned housing should be based on clear and equitable rules; and 3) No student group or organization should have a permanent claim to occupancy in any unit of college-owned housing. Existing claims should be resolved equitably."
- On January 26, Trustee Liaison Jeffrey Riester communicates a Third Progress Report on the Work of the Task Force on Residential Life. The report announces that the Task Force has produced an Interim Report of the Task Force on Residential Life, which is posted to the Lawrence University Web site, and that a copy of the Board's Addendum to the Charge is available there as well.
- The Task Force posts to the Lawrence University Web site answers to Frequently Asked Questions about its work and the issues being addressed.
- The Task Force also posts to the Web site the findings of a written survey of Lawrence students, Survey of Student Opinion on Residential Life, presenting data from a response group of 604 current students.
- In March, the third progress report was printed in the Spring 2000 issue of Lawrence Today under the title 'Trustees Receive Interim Report on Housing, Food Services, Campus Life."
- "Listening sessions," organized by Task Force members and the Alumni Office, are held in Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Appleton, to solicit the views of interested alumni.
- The Task Force issues a Call for Comment on April 7, which outlines the issues being examined by the Task Force in preparation for its final report and announces the scheduling of two open discussion sessions in Riverview Lounge on April 12 and 13. Alumni are asked to contribute their comments via telephone and email.
- The Summer 2000 issue of Lawrence Today publishes an article titled "Study of Residential Life Nears Completion." The article reiterates the steps the Task Force has taken in preparing its final report and expresses appreciation to those alumni who have contributed their input. The article was posted to the Lawrence University Web site on June 11.
- The Task Force on Residential Life completes its final report, for presentation to the Board of Trustees at the October meeting.
- On October 20, the Board of Trustees communicates its response to the Final Report of the Task Force on Residential Life.
In a Letter to the Lawrence Community from the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Harold Jordan communicates the Board's acceptance of the Task Force report and its appreciation for the efforts of those involved. The mailing, which is received by students, faculty and staff, and alumni, contains a formal document, the Board of Trustees Response to the Report of the Task Force on Residential Life, that details the Trustees official response to the Task Force report. The Response states:
"The Board directs the administration to: (1) develop, in consultation with the Lawrence University Community Council and by the end of the 2000-2001 academic year, a clear set of procedures and criteria for the equitable and efficient allocation of formal group housing and an appropriate code of conduct for groups occupying such housing; (2) describe and constitute a Formal Group Housing Review Board, composed of students, faculty, and staff, that would be responsible for carrying out the procedures for allocating group housing; (3) increase over the next few years the amount of university housing stock available for formal group living, so that, to the greatest extent possible, space will be available for all groups that desire such housing and meet the specified criteria; (4) effect all changes in the present housing arrangements gradually over a period of years."
"In carrying out this charge, the administration should be informed by the relevant recommendations of the Task Force, should apply all rules and criteria evenhandedly, and should ensure that no existing or newly constituted group of students is denied access to appropriate housing arbitrarily. In particular, the administration, working in concert with the Board, should continue negotiations with representatives of Greek-letter social organizations, with the goal of ensuring that existing claims are equitably resolved."
- The Board also considers at its October meeting a campus planning report from Sasaki Associates.
In May 2000, the Trustees requested that the college engage Sasaki Associates, Inc., of Watertown, Massachusetts, to conduct a comprehensive update of the campus master plan. In doing so, the Board sought to inform its thinking on how the potential construction of additional residential units and a new campus center might impact larger issues of facility planning at the college.
Sasaki Associates had originally been engaged in 1995 to examine the strategic planning issues confronting Lawrence University over the next five to twenty-five years. Their May 1995 report, "Strategic Options for the Campus Plan of Lawrence University," outlined a number of planning scenarios and recommendations for the development of campus facilities.
The new Sasaki report, titled Lawrence University: Update of Strategic Options, October 2000, is posted to the Lawrence University Web site.
- The Formal Group Housing Planning Committee, convened under the Board's charge to the administration to plan a new group housing allocation system, issues a Draft Proposal for Formal Group Housing for comment, which is posted to the Lawrence University Web site. Open discussion sessions are held on campus for student comment.
- In a letter sent to all Lawrence alumni and dated September 4, Board Chairman Harold Jordan communicates to alumni that the Board of Trustees will review preliminary plans for siting a new 200-bed residence hall and a future campus center at its upcoming October meeting, and that the administration is proceeding with the implementation of a Formal Group Housing system, as outlined in the planning committee's final proposal.
Mr. Jordan states "Lawrence is and has been committed to finding an equitable resolution of existing claims to permanent occupancy of units of college-owned housing. Accordingly, the college invited the fraternities to enter into discussions with the goal of resolving those claims. Two meetings between representatives of Lawrence and those of the fraternities took place during the spring and summer."
"On the basis of those discussions, Lawrence has proposed a response to the fraternities' concerns regarding their housing and their continued presence and purpose on campus. This response would, among other things, provide the fraternities with the continued opportunity to occupy formal group houses, with assured meeting space, and with financial enhancements of endowed scholarship funds for their members."
"It does not (and, given our commitment to equitable access, it cannot) guarantee their exclusive occupancy of particular units of college-owned housing in perpetuity."
"The fraternities have informed the college through their attorney that they do not wish to continue negotiations and are instead considering litigation. We are disappointed by this response, have urged them to reconsider their position, and remain ready, now and in the future, to resume discussions with representatives of all or any of the fraternities."
- The Board of Trustees meet to review preliminary plans for the siting of the new residence hall and a future campus center.
- The Board of Trustees authorizes construction to proceed on a new residence hall, to be located on the river bluff behind Ormsby Hall.
- The new Formal Group Housing Policy goes into effect.