September 2000 Lawrence University Appleton, Wisconsin
|II.||Lawrence's Mission and the Residential Nature of the College|
|V.||Equity and Formal Group Housing|
|Attachment:||Strategic Action Plan for Campus Dining Services at Lawrence University|
The Task Force on Residential Life was charged by the Board of Trustees to conduct a review of residential life and help shape a vision to strengthen that aspect of the student experience at Lawrence. The Task Force emphasizes the interconnectedness of issues that impact students' out-of-classroom experience and stresses that the following recommendations should not be viewed in isolation from each other.
Relying on input from all campus constituencies and after conducting a thorough review, the Task Force recommends that action be taken to:
(1) affirm the centrality of the residential nature of the institution.
- embrace and communicate widely the Principles of Residential Life created by the Task Force and endorsed by the Board of Trustees
- modify the off-campus living policy to clarify and strengthen the expectation that all students live in university-owned housing
(2) provide a high quality food service that is responsive to student needs.
- upgrade facilities and food delivery method
- ensure appropriate allocation and use of board plan revenue
- adopt the newly-created campus dining vision statement and implement the consultant's strategic plan
- require all students to participate in a basic meal plan
- institute an all-campus community meal once each term
- continue to engage Cornyn Fasano Group and request that the consultant conduct a follow-up review of food services before the end of the 2000-2001 academic year
(3) enhance on-campus housing conditions and residential facilities.
- establish an occupancy rate of 90% to avoid overcrowding and permit flexibility in allocation of rooms
- maintain a mix of class years within residential units to foster a sense of community
- build new apartment-style units to house approximately 200 students
- increase the number of small houses available for student housing
- renovate Brokaw Hall to be exclusively student residential space with a suite-style configuration
- upgrade existing residential space by adding common space and modernizing student rooms
- adjust summer conference schedule to ensure adequate time for annual maintenance and re-decoration of student housing
(4) expand the opportunity for students to experience the benefits of group living.
- adopt a new system of formal group housing in order to achieve equity and accountability
- increase the number of facilities available for formal group housing
(5) plan and construct a new campus center to include central dining facilities and to serve as the centerpiece for campus life.
In October 1998 the Board of Trustees voted to undertake a review of residential life at Lawrence. The trustees established the Task Force on Residential Life (Task Force) and charged it to review residential life at Lawrence and to make suggestions to the trustees about future directions and priorities (see Appendix B). The membership of the Task Force was determined following a process of consultation with the Lawrence University Community Council, the Faculty Committee on University Governance, and the Lawrence University Alumni Association Board of Directors. The following individuals, drawn from the student body, faculty, administration, and alumni of the college, agreed to serve:
Nancy Truesdell, Co-chair, Dean of Students
Kenneth Bozeman, Professor of Music
David Brown, Director of Athletics
Michael Cisler, '78
Beth DeStasio, '83, Associate Professor of Biology
Susan Detienne, '68
Kathleen Dreyfus, '02
Jennifer Mallory, '00 (Term III, 1998-1999)
Brad Manning, '00
T. J. Ow, '00 (Term I, 1999-2000)
Alan Parks, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Jeffrey Riester, '70, Trustee
Jenee Rowe, '00
Soozung Sa, '89
Eli Salembier, '00
Judith Sarnecki, Associate Professor of French
Paul Shrode, Associate Dean of Students for Activities
Joseph Troy, '76
Throughout the winter and early spring of 1999, the Task Force, with the assistance of the Trustee Committee on Student Affairs, worked to identify topics and concerns to be examined in greater detail and to organize itself for the work ahead, including setting a timetable for its operations. In setting more specific directions for its work, the Task Force decided to focus primarily on the student experience of residential life. While other topics (admissions, retention, athletics, the role of alcohol, health and counseling services, etc.) might be considered to have an impact on residential life, the Task Force concluded that its work would best serve the trustees' purposes if the focus was confined primarily to issues, unmet needs, and aspirations in the areas of housing, food services, and community life.
In the course of refining the Task Force's charge, the Task Force and the Trustee Committee on Student Affairs agreed on some things that would not fall within the scope of the study. While the Task Force would examine the Lawrence University Community Council's role in the selection of student rooms and related input into housing activities, it was determined that a broader review of LUCC lay beyond the scope of its work. Similarly, the Task Force decided not to conduct a wholesale review of the structure and efficacy of administrative support for residential life.
To facilitate its work, the Task Force initially divided itself into three working subcommittees, which focused on housing, food service, and community life respectively. A fourth group of Task Force members studied the underlying principles on which the college's residential philosophy is based and drafted a statement of principles that articulates why residential life is important to the fulfillment of Lawrence's educational mission.
The Task Force engaged in a number of preliminary information-gathering activities, such as reviewing past studies and reports on residential life, touring residential and food service facilities, and observing the housing lottery. This initial phase of its work was completed by the end of the summer of 1999. During the fall, the Task Force began a more formal and structured solicitation of input from students, staff, faculty, and alumni. A student opinion survey was mailed to every student currently enrolled on the Lawrence campus, and written surveys were distributed to faculty and staff. Two follow-up listening sessions were conducted with interested students, and faculty were regularly updated on the progress of the Task Force at monthly faculty meetings. Alumni input was gathered through letters and e-mails received following an initial mailing from John Luke, chair of the Board of Trustees. In addition, regular Task Force updates posted on a web site and articles in Lawrence Today solicited response from interested alumni. A series of alumni listening sessions was initiated with the Lawrence University Alumni Association Board of Directors and the regional alumni club group in the Twin Cities. Parents provided opinions and ideas to the Task Force at a focus group held during Family Weekend in October 1999.
As part of the research and inquiry process, the Task Force also gathered qualitative information on where Lawrence stands in terms of housing, food services, and related matters. Site visits to Ripon, St. Norbert, Grinnell, Macalester, Carleton, St. Olaf and Pomona Colleges provided the Task Force with information on a variety of residential models and practices.
In January 2000 the Task Force presented an Interim Report to the Board of Trustees for review and approval. The Task Force had concluded that any final recommendations it made would be based on a number of points of consensus that it had already reached. Since the Task Force's final recommendations would depend so heavily on acceptance of these points of consensus by the Board of Trustees, the Task Force felt that in order to move forward with its work, it needed to bring the Interim Report to the Board for endorsement.
The Interim Report included an articulation of Lawrence's mission and the residential nature of the College with a statement of principles intended to guide residential life at Lawrence (see Part II: Lawrence's Mission and the Residential Nature of the College). The Interim Report identified key issues related to food service, housing and campus life, and it highlighted the importance of "fair and equitable . . . treatment of all students in the allocation of resources and the provision of housing, dining options, and co- and extra-curricular opportunities" (from the October 1998 charge from the Board of Trustees, see Appendix B). The trustees reviewed and accepted the Task Force's Interim Report and provided an addendum to their original charge (see Appendix C). In this addendum the Board endorsed the statement of principles of residential life as well as the following working principles on equity:
- Lawrence students may freely associate and form student groups and organizations of their own choosing (including Greek-letter social organizations)
- The allocation of college-owned housing should be based on clear and equitable rules
- 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.
The Board also empowered the Task Force to acquire any information from outside sources necessary to improve food services.
The Board of Trustees acknowledged that the issues under review by the Task Force were interrelated, and recommendations in one area of campus life would most certainly impact other areas. The Board charged the Task Force to develop a detailed plan for residential life and a timetable for its implementation, being mindful of the fact that any proposed changes accepted by the Board (particularly in the area of assignment of residential spaces) would not be implemented until appropriate alternative arrangements had been developed.
Following the January 2000 Board of Trustees meeting, the Task Force continued its work and, as it began to formulate recommendations, sought additional input from the Lawrence community. Valuable listening sessions were held with alumni in the Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Fox Cities areas. Members of the Task Force worked in collaboration with Food Services staff, the administration, and an independent consultant to develop both short and long-term goals for improvement of food services. Numerous meetings were held to discuss a wide range of topics regarding housing, the off-campus living policy and the introduction of formal group housing as a new system of housing allocation. Members of the Task Force met with representatives from Physical Plant and Campus Services to review residential floor plans, discuss possible renovations in existing housing facilities and develop ideas about new housing options. A subcommittee of the Task Force examined earlier plans for renovation of Memorial Union developed by the Memorial Union Program Development Committee and created a detailed proposal and program statement for a new campus center. The Task Force also devoted meeting time to discussion of reports addressing the role of alcohol and other drugs on campus and concerns shared by the Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment Resource Board. In particular, Resource Board representatives addressed the Task Force and identified issues surrounding safety and security in student residences and the importance of having residence life staff people on site to discourage inappropriate behavior and offer assistance when problems arise. In light of changing national norms, evolving legal issues and increased parental interest, the Task Force believes a careful review of policies and practices regarding the role of alcohol and drugs on campus would be useful. Similarly, the issue of smoking and its second-hand effects in residential facilities and public areas on campus needs examination. The Task Force also received a report on parking prepared by Campus Services. Recognizing that parking presents problems that extend beyond the student residential experience and involve the needs of faculty, staff and visitors, the Task Force concluded it would be most appropriate to defer examination of this issue to Sasaki Associates (see below) who have been engaged to update the campus master plan.
In April 2000 the Task Force issued an update on its work and invited further community input. Students, staff and faculty received a written update on the Task Force's work and several open meetings were held to allow for community response. In addition, the update was posted on Lawrence's website. The Board of Trustees reviewed the update and discussed the continuing work of the Task Force at its spring meeting in May 2000. At that meeting, the trustees authorized the administration to contract with Sasaki Associates to update the campus master plan that had been commissioned in 1995. Task Force materials were subsequently provided to Sasaki Associates as part of the consultants' initial information gathering phase. In August, members of the Task Force participated in campus meetings with representatives from Sasaki.
In submitting its final report to the Board, the Task Force recognizes that implementation of its recommendations will be dependent upon a number of factors including fundraising, decisions about future institutional size, resource allocation, property acquisition, and the construction of new facilities. The Task Force anticipates that the updated campus master plan, scheduled to be submitted to the Board by Sasaki Associates in October 2000, will contain a wide-ranging assessment of options for addressing the needs identified in this report. The Task Force hopes that, with the benefit of Sasaki Associates' independent assessment, the Board will be in a position to examine the feasibility of the Task Force's proposals and enact an action plan that will lead to a significant enhancement of student residential life at Lawrence.
"Learning, it cannot be too often repeated, is a way of life. That being so, we must pay attention to how students live. The college home is educational, or it is not." (Henry M. Wriston, The Nature of the Liberal College, Appleton, 1937, p. 118)
In calling for the formation of the Task Force on Residential Life, the Board of Trustees characterized this element of the college as a "defining aspect of our style of undergraduate education" and as "a central component of our educational mission" (see Appendix B). Throughout the review, the members of the Task Force kept uppermost in their minds the trustees' endorsement of the centrality of residential life for the identity and mission of the college. The Task Force agreed early on in its deliberations that, in order better to understand the place of residential life at Lawrence, it should carefully review the philosophy that undergirds the residential nature of the college. No attempt has been made to articulate such a philosophy of residential life at the college since the 1971 Report of the Committee on the Residential Nature of the University and the work of the 1976-77 Long-Range Planning Task Force. Furthermore, no precise statement of the principles that inform and govern residential life appears in any current University publication.
Given that the residential character of the college is widely understood to be central to Lawrence's educational mission, the Task Force believes that the principles, goals, and aspirations governing it should be articulated and given greater prominence. The Task Force concluded, therefore, that it should examine these principles, draft a statement reflecting them, and encourage its dissemination in published form.
The 1971 Report of the Committee on the Residential Nature of the University offered a definition of the residential nature of the University that focused on the concept of interaction. "Education is immeasurably enhanced by interaction between people engaged in the educational process, and the residential philosophy provides the greatest opportunity for interaction. A basic proposition underlying this discussion is that students living in campus residences interact among themselves and with faculty members more often and perhaps more significantly than students living off campus." The report went on to articulate three reasons for the desirability of such interactions: (1) an educational institution is an academic community concerned with the exchange and challenge of ideas and thought in all areas of experience; (2) the interactions that take place on our residential campus provide role models for individual development; and (3) individual and group interactions stimulate an environment of analysis, challenge, and synthesis and sustain the vitality of the individual and the institution. The report concluded with the statement, "we learn as we live."
The Task Force strongly endorses these sentiments. Nevertheless, as suggested above, it is timely to revisit that definition of residential life. In carrying out its review of residential principles, the Task Force assessed various Lawrence publications, reviewed professional literature on the residential liberal arts college, collected statements about residential philosophy from peer institutions, and discussed the issue extensively.
Principles of Residential Life
Lawrence University is a residential college by design. Students are required to live on-campus because we believe that a small residential community distinguished by frequent face-to-face interactions between and among its members provides an ideal environment for accomplishing the goals of liberal education. Lawrence's residential nature maintains and expands the opportunities for meaningful interactions outside the classroom and, in so doing, contributes to the fulfillment of Lawrence's mission to promote among students "the development of intellect and talent, the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and the cultivation of judgment and values." Furthermore, meaningful relationships between students and faculty, among students, and within the Lawrence community at large preserve and extend the vitality of the institution.
Therefore, residential life at Lawrence should strive to:
(1) Enhance the academic community by sustaining an environment that
- fosters the exchange and evaluation of ideas and opinions,
- supports vigorous debate, and
- promotes critical examination of the assumptions and values of its members.
(2) Encourage and facilitate the interaction of students, faculty, and staff in order to
- strengthen the intellectual and social environment of the college,
- provide role-models for individual development, and
- support the establishment of meaningful relationships and long-lasting friendships.
(3) Advance the personal and intellectual growth of individuals.
(4) Nurture an inclusive environment that
- promotes mature and responsible behavior,
- values diversity and tolerance for differences, and
- encourages mutual respect and understanding.
(5) Support and encourage student leadership, independence, self-governance, and accountability.
(6) Ensure equitable residential and social opportunities for all students.
(7) Provide opportunities for students to create and participate in a rich variety of co- and extra-curricular activities.
(8) Contribute to a safe and healthful campus environment.
In January 2000, the Board endorsed the Task Force's statement of principles of residential life.
Following endorsement of these principles by the Board, the Task Force reviewed Lawrence's off-campus housing policy:
The Task Force concluded that with a few modifications, the present off-campus housing policy furthers the principles of residential life enumerated above and serves the institution well. Task Force members agree with the Board that the residential character of the college is a "defining aspect of our style of undergraduate education" and believe that the residential nature of the college should be enhanced and strengthened. Requiring students to live on campus is a key component in creating the kind of small residential community in which the goals of liberal education can best be achieved. Given this belief in the centrality of the residential experience to liberal education at Lawrence, the Task Force proposes some modifications to the off-campus housing policy. The exemptions for veterans and students living with their parents, siblings or Lawrence employees should be removed. Full participation in the educational life of the college is best facilitated through residence on campus. The Task Force continues to recognize, however, that those students who have accomplished a significant tenure in on-campus residence at Lawrence, or for whom the on-campus residence options seem inappropriate due to age or family status warrant special consideration. Consequently, the Task Force proposes acceptance of the following revised off-campus housing policy:
(b) Students beginning their fifth year or later after high school
(c) Married students or students with dependent children
Students meeting any of these requirements should submit a written request for an exemption to the dean of students. Housing charges will be cancelled only after reasons are verified. Off-campus students must keep the registrar's office informed of their address and phone number.
During the course of its review of residential life it has become abundantly clear to the Task Force that the issues involved in attempting to strengthen students' out-of-classroom experience are closely intertwined. The Task Force has become keenly aware that formulating recommendations to address issues of equity, growing student dissatisfaction with food service, overcrowding in our residence halls, concern that our housing stock does not provide a sufficient variety of living options to satisfy student interests and needs, and the urgent need to build a new student union cannot be undertaken in isolation from each other. Achieving an overall improvement in residential life at Lawrence will depend upon integrated change.
The Task Force envisages that the proposals contained in this report, if enacted, will result in a significant and dramatic enhancement of student residential life. The creation of a new campus center which provides a centrally-located community meeting point, supports student activities, groups and organizations and offers a high quality flexible dining service responsive to student needs is a central feature of the Task Force's recommendations. In the Task Force's opinion, building such a facility is the key component in devising a long-term solution to student dissatisfaction with food service. It must be stressed, however, that a new campus center is only one element in a broader vision for residential life at Lawrence. In order to live up to the principles of residential life and to create a rich and rewarding out-of-classroom experience for students at Lawrence, it is imperative that the current weaknesses in housing be addressed swiftly. The Task Force's belief in the centrality of the residential experience for the educational mission of Lawrence is based on the assumption that the institution is committed to excellence in providing the quantity, quality and variety of housing necessary to meet the needs of our students. Significant investment will be required if Lawrence is to provide a residential environment equal in quality and excellence to the academic programs of the institution.
In order to fulfill its residential mission, Lawrence must ensure that it provides a high quality food service that is responsive to students' needs. Sharing meals as members of a residential community fosters the development of meaningful interaction outside the classroom. A positive dining experience supports the principles of residential life set forth in Part II by creating the opportunity for the exchange and evaluation of ideas and opinions in a relaxed setting; encouraging and facilitating interaction of students, faculty and staff; nurturing an inclusive environment; and contributing to a healthful campus environment. Most students view meal time as an important part of their day when they meet friends, discuss classroom and extra-curricular activities, relax and take a break from academic rigors, engage in dialogue with other members of the Lawrence community, and gain nourishment to remain healthy so they can face the challenges of being a student.
In evaluating food service at Lawrence, the Task Force interviewed Food Services staff; reviewed previous surveys; gathered information during listening sessions and in visits to other campuses; surveyed students, faculty and staff; and experienced firsthand both residential dining and catered events. Task Force members were impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm displayed by Food Services employees. Although staff identified the challenges presented by outdated, inadequate physical facilities and lack of modern equipment, they demonstrated commitment to their jobs and to the students they serve.
The Task Force identified major challenges facing food services at Lawrence in its January 2000 Interim Report to the Board of Trustees. Following discussion, the trustees empowered the Task Force to "acquire any information from outside sources necessary to help determine improvements to food services" (see Appendix C). In March 2000 the university retained the Cornyn Fasano Group, an independent food services consulting firm, to coordinate the development of a strategic action plan for campus dining that addresses the concerns identified by the Task Force.
After conducting an independent review and meeting with key campus constituents, the consultant developed a discussion paper in which she summarized the findings of the Task Force and articulated additional areas of concern. She identified the need for a mission statement and stressed the importance of a comprehensive plan for the future direction of Food Services. The consultant confirmed the Task Force's observation that management needs to adopt a customer service approach that is more responsive to student needs. In addition, she agreed that every successful food service operation relies on a visible, accessible manager who interacts directly with students in the dining rooms and serving areas and welcomes and appreciates student input. The current decentralized operational structure separating Downer, Lucinda's and the Grill staff needs to be replaced with a collaborative model that encourages communication among staff and values student input.
In examining the physical plant, the consultant concurred with the Task Force in concluding that food service facilities need to be significantly upgraded. The present physical layout of Downer prevents adequate service delivery and hinders appealing food presentation. The "line delivery" concept is outdated and unattractive to current students who as consumers are accustomed to variety, choice, and value for the dollar. Today's college student requires flexibility in meal plan options, menu items, food delivery, and hours of service. The Task Force's survey of student opinion provides useful feedback on these issues from the perspective of Lawrence students. Three-quarters of students who responded to the student opinion survey indicated they did not believe that the meal plans were reasonably priced and half the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the range of meal plan options. Overwhelming support was voiced for increased flexibility in food service offerings and for adopting a declining balance/debit card meal plan option.
The consultant recommended that the University take a careful look at the food services budget as well as the allocation and use of board plan revenue. In particular, it is important to address the relationship between board plan and catering revenue and expenses, the reality as well as student perception of price to value, and the impact of residential living groups providing meals outside a formal campus dining plan structure.
The consultant recommended that a strategic planning committee be formed to include members of the Task Force as well as those who would be responsible for implementation of any changes and those who are primary users of campus dining services. The consultant facilitated a planning workshop in which she collaborated with members of the Task Force, the Vice President for Business Affairs and Administration, Food Services management staff, students, and representatives from the primary dining hall and catering user groups to develop a vision statement for campus dining (included in Attachment).
In June 2000 the consultant offered a draft of preliminary recommendations for resolution of both short and long-term issues regarding food services and submitted a final report in September 2000 (see Attachment: A Strategic Action Plan for Campus Dining Services at Lawrence University). As a result, Food Services staff are introducing a number of changes for the 2000-2001 academic year including: (1) implementation of a block meal plan offering greater flexibility and range of options, (2) extended hours of service for the dinner meal and Saturday breakfast at Downer, and (3) the addition of a "make-your-own"line open in the mornings. The consultant is working closely with Food Services staff to offer advice regarding the purchase of equipment that is portable, re-usable, and suitable for presentation and preparation of food at the point of service rather than in inaccessible and outdated kitchens.
Many of the long-term solutions to problems within food services are tied to the Task Force's recommendation for a new campus center that includes a central dining operation with multiple service outlets (see Part VI: Campus Life). This will result in a campus dining program that is efficient and capable of providing maximum service. The main dining area should be attractive, functional, flexible, and allow for display cooking at every station. Service outlets could be easily modified as food preferences and eating habits evolve over time and must allow for visible change and upgrade on a regular basis. The consultant's Strategic Plan includes long-term suggestions regarding equipment and facilities, a declining balance program, late-night food options, a customer service policy, and improved communication channels that would result in regular and useful feedback for Food Services staff. She is working directly with Food Services management to review and make recommendations for improvement in staffing patterns, budgetary considerations and departmental organization as well.
In addition to recommendations generated by the independent consultant and endorsed by the Task Force, a number of other suggestions regarding dining and food services at Lawrence have emerged. Over 90 percent of students who responded to the student opinion survey indicated that socializing at mealtimes is important to them. The Task Force recommends that, beginning with the 2001-2002 academic year, students (including non-residential students and those who live in small group settings), be required to participate in a minimum campus meal plan equivalent to five meals per week. Campus dining has been identified as central to and characteristic of the residential nature of Lawrence, and all students should share in the common dining experience. In recommending a minimum of five meals per week, the Task Force wishes to acknowledge that students benefit from social interactions at meal times in both large and small group settings.
The Task Force endorses the idea of providing variety, flexibility, and a balance of dining options in both the larger community campus center setting as well as in small, residentially-based kitchens. Some students enjoy preparing some meals for themselves, and the opportunity to enjoy this independence and share meals with smaller groups of friends should be available. As renovation of existing residences and construction of new residential facilities is considered, kitchen and dining areas should be included (see Part IV: Housing). Some small and formal group living settings will call for complete kitchens and dining areas (see Part V: Equity and Formal Group Housing) while others will meet student needs if refrigerators, microwaves and gathering spaces are made available.
It is further recommended that once each term an all campus "community meal" (ideally Sunday brunch) be instituted. All Lawrence employees would be invited to attend the meal free of charge, and family members would be offered a reduced meal rate. This Lawrence community meal would foster interaction among faculty, staff and students in an informal setting and would help meet the expressed student interest in increased socializing with faculty and staff during meals. Prior to completion of a new campus center where all food venues will be housed in one facility and interaction will occur more naturally, the current faculty meal program should continue to be available. As it exists now, faculty are allowed to accompany a student to a meal at no charge, and the Task Force believes that the current program should be continued, clarified, promoted and encouraged.
The Task Force acknowledges and applauds the recent and anticipated changes that Food Services has initiated, and there is every reason to believe that increased student satisfaction will result. In light of the changes occurring in food service, the Task Force recommends that the University continue to engage the services of Cornyn Fasano Group as food services consultant, and that the consultant be retained to conduct a follow-up review of food services to be submitted to the administration before the end of the 2000-2001 academic year.
Current on-campus housing at Lawrence consists of six major residence halls (Colman Hall, Kohler Hall, Ormsby Hall, Plantz Hall, Sage Hall, Trever Hall), seven small houses (Co-op House, Sabin House, Hulbert House, 738 E. Boldt Way, 741 E. Boldt Way, 742 E. Boldt Way, 739 E. College), five fraternity houses (the Quad), one quad building (Draheim) for women, and, as emergency housing, the top two floors of Brokaw Hall. Two additional small houses (122 N. Union, 128 N. Union) will be added to the housing stock before the beginning of the academic year 2000-01. Members of the Task Force have carried out a detailed assessment of the housing stock (see Appendix D). Task Force members have visited all residence halls and most small houses, theme houses, and fraternities. In each building, common spaces (hallways, lounges, kitchens, laundry facilities, etc.) and student rooms were examined. Information was also gathered from student surveys, informal conversations with students, formal meetings with some residential groups, and interviews with administrative staff.
The Task Force has identified a number of positive aspects of our current arrangements for housing. Lawrence successfully integrates different class years within all of our residence units. The presence of singles in our residence halls plays a key role in encouraging seniors to live among freshmen and sophomores in buildings such as Plantz Hall and Trever Hall. In contrast to many other schools, Lawrence has successfully built a sense of community within our residential facilities among different classes. In contemplating possible improvements to residential facilities, the Task Force has been committed to maintaining and strengthening this sense of community. Although Sage is one of our most desirable residence halls, perhaps more importantly, no one residence hall is universally disliked. The Task Force's survey of student opinion revealed that options such as small houses and suites were seen as highly desirable. Our current practice of providing smoke-free or substance-free housing also received strong approval ratings. Quiet floors or houses and opportunities for co-op living also were rated highly. Respondents to the survey overwhelmingly endorsed the current system of using a lottery by class year for the allocation of housing.
Nevertheless, the Task Force has concluded that it has been too long since Lawrence invested significant resources into student residential facilities. The most recently built residence hall, Kohler Hall, was completed in 1967. The most recent major residence hall renovation, the conversion of Sage Hall and Ormsby Hall to their current configuration, was done through a HUD grant in 1971-1972. Since then, maintenance of roofs, windows, etc. has been undertaken, but no significant renovation or new construction has been done in the past 28 years. In contrast, the Task Force has noted that other schools have recently invested significant resources in renovating existing housing and building new residential facilities with innovative designs. Task Force members believe that inadequacies in our current housing put Lawrence at a competitive disadvantage and that a total upgrade of student housing is required.
In the course of its work, the Task Force has identified three principal weaknesses in student housing at Lawrence: insufficient units of housing; lack of diversity of housing options; and the urgent need for renovation of existing facilities.
(a) Insufficient units of housing
It is clear that Lawrence does not have a sufficient number of rooms if current enrollments are maintained. Any increase in enrollment or retention will dramatically exacerbate an already serious situation. Since the Task Force began its work, two small houses (122 N. Union, 128 N. Union) have been added to the stock of student housing and will be available for use in fall 2000. The need for housing at present can only be accommodated by utilizing student guestrooms, lounges in residence halls (occasionally), and, most significantly, two floors of Brokaw Hall. Due to lack of space, the top two floors of Brokaw Hall were re-opened for student residential use two years ago as a temporary measure. In the judgment of the Task Force, the quality of the residential facilities offered to the 65 students who have resided in Brokaw Hall during the past two years falls below an acceptable level. Before the beginning of the 2000-01 academic year, additional showers and a laundry room will be added to Brokaw Hall. Nevertheless, Brokaw Hall remains the only mixed-use residence hall sharing space with administrative offices. Unlike other residence halls, there is no central desk, no front entrance, no computer lab, no facilities for vending, and no bicycle storage.
Total number of beds available (2000-01)
|Residence Halls (not incl. Brokaw Hall)||856|
|Small Houses (incl. Draheim)||96|
|Fraternity Houses & Co-op||124|
|New small houses (122 N. Union, 128 N. Union)||23|
|Emergency housing in Brokaw Hall||65|
|Other emergency housing (Plantz/Trever Hall guest rooms)||5|
|TOTAL ON-CAMPUS HOUSING||1169|
Although the Task Force applauds the recent decision to increase the number of small houses (62% of respondents to the student survey rated small houses as highly desirable), the group believes that much more needs to be done. The figures for the allocation of student housing for 2000-01 provide a useful snapshot of the problems created by our current housing shortage. As of July 2000, a total of 1069 students had already been assigned housing for the following year.
Students with assigned housing
At that time, there were a further 5 freshmen and 18 transfers who had not yet been assigned housing who had paid their deposit and submitted housing contracts. An additional 5 freshmen and 2 transfers had paid their deposit but not yet submitted a housing contract. Among continuing students, 29 had submitted housing contracts but were unassigned. Another 22 had registered for classes in Appleton but had not submitted a housing contract. A further 41 students were on a leave of absence with a projected return date of Fall 2000. In total, there were 122 students potentially requiring on campus housing who had not been assigned housing.
|Deposit paid/contract submitted||4||1||5|
|Deposit paid/contract not yet submitted||2||3||5|
|Deposit paid/contract submitted||4||14||18|
|Deposit paid/contract not yet submitted||2||0||2|
|Registered for classes/ contract not yet submitted||10||12||22|
|Students on leaves of absence|
|Fall 2000 projected return date *||15||26||41|
|* It should be noted that experience suggests that only a small percentage of students on leaves of absence return to Lawrence as scheduled.|
In July 2000, of the 1169 available beds, 1069 beds had already been assigned. There were 100 beds remaining but potentially as many as 122 students requiring housing (see note above regarding students on leaves of absence); a possible shortfall of 22 beds. Although adding a small additional number of beds sufficient to address the shortfall might seem an adequate solution, it does nothing to address the larger issues of occupancy rates and accommodating gender imbalance in enrollment patterns. The Task Force has determined that establishing a realistic and appropriate occupancy rate is an essential step in calculating institutional housing need. Over the past few years, occupancy rates have been maintained at undesirable levels in excess of 95%. Maintaining such a high occupancy rate creates a number of problems beyond simple overcrowding. A high occupancy rate places constraints on flexibility in allocating rooms, particularly with regard to gender-specific floors. Competition for desirable housing is increased and makes the lottery process an unduly stressful time for students. Due to pressure for space, students who plan to study off-campus lose their place in the lottery. The Task Force has even heard that pressure on housing in the past has been so strong that some students, who would otherwise participate in off-campus study programs, choose to stay at Lawrence in order to ensure they receive a better room in the lottery. Not knowing the exact size of the incoming freshman class until late in September creates problems that are exacerbated by a high occupancy rate. One of the results has been that utilizing overflow or emergency housing (Brokaw Hall, Plantz Hall and Trever Hall guest rooms) has become standard practice and that housing not intended to be part of the regular housing stock has become considered as such. The Task Force believes that an occupancy rate of 90% would allow us to avoid overcrowding and permit appropriate flexibility in the allocation of rooms. This change would greatly improve the residential experience for our students.
Applying a 90% occupancy rate to the projected figures for fall 2000 indicates that a total of 154 beds would need to be added to the housing stock. Even if only five students on leaves of absence return in the fall (instead of potentially 41), an additional 114 beds would need to be added in order to maintain 90% occupancy. If the emergency housing in Brokaw Hall is not included in the current housing stock, the figure rises to 179. It should be noted that these calculations are based on fall 2000 numbers and do not take into consideration any increase in enrollment and retention that might occur in future years. Eventual enactment of the Task Force's proposal to modify the off-campus housing policy could result in an additional 20-30 students residing on campus and a concomitant further increase in total housing needs (see Part II: Lawrence's Mission and the Residential Nature of the College). Furthermore, any future renovation of existing residence halls (as recommended below) will likely result in the loss of beds due to converting rooms to suites, adding singles, expanding lounges and other common spaces and further increase the need for new housing.
Similarly, if Plantz Hall is removed from the housing stock, as recommended by Sasaki Associates in their 1995 Campus Master Plan, the need for housing would increase further (see below). The Task Force has concluded that Lawrence has an insufficient number of housing units to maintain occupancy rates at desirable levels and adequately meet student needs. A significant increase in the total number of rooms is needed to provide Lawrence with the excellence in residential facilities to which the Task Force believes Lawrence should aspire.
Lack of Variety of Housing Options
The Task Force has identified that student housing at Lawrence suffers from a lack of variety in the housing options offered students. This issue must be addressed in order to enhance the quality of the student experience of residential life. Lawrence provides a relatively limited variety of styles of residence unit. At present, residence halls comprise 79% of our housing stock. Students have indicated great interest in expanding the range and availability of alternatives to the traditional residence hall. In the course of their work, members of the Task Force have visited a number of other schools that have developed creative alternatives to residence halls. One option that has proved popular elsewhere is offering apartment-style accommodations on campus. Such housing offers upper-class students an attractive alternative to traditional residence halls by affording greater independence and facilitating the interaction of small groups of students. There is very strong interest among students at Lawrence in this option. Over 65% of respondents to the Task Force's survey rated the addition of apartment-style housing as essential or very important.
The Task Force recommends that new apartment-style units be built to house approximately 200 students. In making this recommendation, the Task Force envisages a residential facility that would offer upper-class students the opportunity to enjoy increased independence and exercise greater responsibility in managing their living environment. Students living in this style of housing would choose their apartment-mates and have a greater degree of autonomy than that afforded elsewhere on campus. Apartment-style housing should be designed to encourage the continued mixing of class years within the residential unit and to facilitate the interaction of residents with the wider campus community.
Subject to a design process, the Task Force imagines that individual apartments might vary in size and accommodate from five to eight students. Student rooms, most of which would consist of double rooms, could be arranged in a "pod" with an adjoining common room, full bathroom, and galley kitchen. Although a galley kitchen would give students the flexibility to fix meals and snacks, the Task Force believes that all students in apartment-style housing should continue to have a minimal board plan (see Part III: Food Services). The kitchen might be equipped with refrigerator, small range (stove and oven), sink, and microwave. Each apartment building should have adequate laundry facilities, storage space, meeting space, and a common space large enough to hold all residents for social functions. Apartments should be air-conditioned. One wing or building of these apartment-style units should be conceived in such a way as to be available for formal group housing (see Part V: Equity and Formal Group Housing). Ideally, new apartment-style housing should be sufficiently flexible so that groups of varying sizes could be housed in the space over the years and have access to suitable space for private rituals, group storage, and meetings. Although the Task Force recognizes that differential pricing for air-conditioned apartment-style housing might be appropriate, every effort should be made to avoid sorting by economic class in different housing units.
Although small houses comprise only 10% of our housing stock, they are among the most popular style of housing with 62% of the respondents to the student survey indicating that they viewed small houses as being highly desirable. By contrast, only 13% of respondents rated a double room in a residence hall as being highly desirable. The Task Force believes that expanding the availability of small houses by increasing their number would further enhance the housing stock. The Task Force applauds the administration's decision to add two more small houses to the student residential stock for 2000-01. The Task Force proposes that three or four additional small houses be added to the housing stock over the next several years (see also Part V: Equity and Formal Group Housing).
Among current residence halls, Sage Hall is rated most highly by students. One of the principal reasons is that Sage Hall incorporates "suite-style" living in which several rooms are grouped around a common living room and sometimes also a bathroom. The Task Force proposes that one additional residence hall be reconfigured into a suite-style residential unit. The campus plan developed by Sasaki Associates in 1995 proposed that Brokaw Hall be returned exclusively to residential use and that a suite-style configuration be considered. The work of the Task Force suggests that that is an attractive option. Significant renovation of Brokaw Hall or any other current residence hall will require that it be taken off-line during construction. The institution's ability to do that will depend upon the availability of new or alternative housing that can function as overflow housing. In the case of Brokaw Hall, alternative space for administrative offices would also have to be found.
In considering how to expand the variety of housing options, the Task Force has examined the overall balance of current offerings and proposes a model for the future.
Current Distribution of Beds by Type of Residence
|Small Houses/Theme Houses||10%|
|Group Houses (Co-op & Fraternities)||11%|
Task Force Recommendations for Future Distribution of
Beds by Type of Residence
|Group Living (Small/Theme/Group Houses) *||25%|
|* The Task Force envisions a fluidity in the allocation of space between small houses, theme houses, and group houses|
Current Distribution of Beds by Type of Room
|* Rooms in quads and suites are all doubles|
Task Force Recommendation for Future Distribution of
Beds by Type of Room
|* A mix of singles and doubles is recommended|
It has been nearly 30 years since Lawrence carried out a major renovation of any of its principal residence halls. In 1971-72 Sage Hall and Ormsby Hall were converted to their current configuration with the assistance of a HUD grant. Since then routine maintenance of roofs, windows, etc. has been undertaken, periodic redecoration and replacement of furniture has been carried out and all residences have been wired for internet access. In the course of studying our current housing stock and visiting nearly every building, members of the Task Force have concluded that major renovations of existing housing facilities are required.
Most obviously, Brokaw Hall needs urgent attention. Having been used for emergency housing over the past two years, it is clear that the current configuration of the building does not meet student needs. In comparison to our other residence halls, Brokaw Hall is sub-standard. Although the inadequacies in showers and laundry facilities will be addressed by the beginning of the 2000-01 academic year, no action has been taken on the most serious problem with Brokaw Hall; that it is a mixed-use facility with three floors dedicated to administrative functions. The Task Force strongly endorses the proposal contained in the 1995 campus plan developed by Sasaki Associates that Brokaw Hall be returned to exclusively residential use. This building should be renovated to include suites, singles (both in and out of suites), more bathrooms and more common spaces. Small kitchens adjacent to or incorporated within common space should also be added. The absence of the central desk, front entrance, computer lab, vending facilities and bicycle storage should also be addressed. Approximately 100 beds could be accommodated in a newly renovated Brokaw Hall. If Brokaw Hall became fully residential once again, it would significantly strengthen the residential character of the west side of campus. The Task Force views Sasaki Associates's forthcoming updated campus master plan as a key element in examining the feasibility and desirability of renovating Brokaw Hall in the manner proposed here.
In addition to carrying out an extensive renovation of Brokaw, the Task Force recommends that other existing residential facilities be renovated/upgraded. Common spaces on residential floors need to be expanded. There should be lounges on every floor of residence halls which combine the functions of a sitting room, TV lounge and kitchenette/snack area (the latter feature would decrease the desire for microwaves in student rooms). In the Task Force's opinion, such common spaces would significantly enhance the social life in residence halls. Where appropriate, basements of residences should be renovated to create more attractive multi-purpose spaces, possibly including additional practice rooms, study areas, TV lounges, etc. Where needed, kitchens should be upgraded. There are major electrical problems in the Quad that need to be addressed. It may also be necessary to examine the structure of the buildings (new roofs, etc.). During their tours of the facilities, members of the Task Force noted that many residence rooms are poorly lit and have insufficient electrical outlets. The Task Force has heard from many students that the inability to regulate heat in individual rooms is a major problem in many residences. There is strong interest in investigating the possibility of adding air conditioning to residential facilities. With the growing numbers of students using personal computers in their rooms, it is clear that many rooms have inadequate desk space. Lack of adequate closet space is also a problem in some residences. Many of these changes would require alterations in room size and layout.
In examining the issue of renovation of existing facilities, the Task Force has become aware of a problem with our current system of hall maintenance. There is a conflict between the need to do annual maintenance of our facilities (painting, repairs, etc.) during the summer and the housing demands of summer conferences. The Task Force believes that the scheduling of summer conferences should be better coordinated with the annual maintenance and re-decoration of residential facilities. Physical plant personnel should be involved in long-range conference scheduling so that each year one residential facility remains unused for the bulk of the summer to allow for major repairs and maintenance. Additionally, each residential unit should be empty for a period each summer to facilitate routine maintenance. Maintaining the utility and attractiveness of our student residential facilities directly contributes to our educational mission. That mission should take priority over summer conference scheduling.
Plan for Implementation
(a) Build new apartment-style units of housing with a total capacity of approximately 200 beds. Building new apartments will reduce the campus housing occupancy rate and allow the college to initiate major renovation of existing facilities.
(b) Develop and implement a plan for renovation of existing facilities.
(c) Add three or four new small houses, some with commercial-grade kitchens.
Items (a) - (c) should be initiated concurrently.
The following elements of the plan for renovating Brokaw Hall are subject to modification and revision in light of Sasaki Associates' upcoming campus master plan and further campus conversations.
(d) Prepare Brokaw Hall for renovation. Present administrative offices will have to be relocated elsewhere on campus. Renovate Brokaw Hall and return it to exclusively residential use. The Task Force strongly recommends that the building be configured with a variety of residential spaces including suites, singles (both in and out of suites), more bathrooms and more living/common spaces. Initial estimates suggest that about 100 beds could be accommodated in a renovated building.
(e) Renovate Plantz Hall. The Task Force has discussed the problem of Plantz Hall as the least desirable residence on campus and tentatively endorses Sasaki Associates' 1995 recommendation to remove it from the housing stock. Removal from the housing stock would be feasible if the new apartment units outlined above are completed. Plantz Hall could then be renovated for administrative functions. Alternatively, available space might be used for academic needs such as student-practice space, art studios and other, similar purposes. If Plantz Hall remains a residence hall, it should be renovated to offer more desirable housing, with more common spaces and bathrooms. If this latter option is pursued, the Task Force strongly recommends the creation of a desirable residential community surrounding Plantz Hall on its north side.
The following represents one possible scenario for the phase-in of new residential facilities. The Task Force determined the number and configuration of new beds in order to illustrate how removal of Plantz Hall from the residential housing stock might be accommodated.
Impact of New residential Facilities
|Doubles||Singles||Triples||Net change||Total Beds *|
|1. Add Apartments||978 (+148)||374 (+52)||12||+200||1364|
|2. Add Small houses||1004 (+26)||398 (+24)||12||+50||1414|
|3. Remove Brokaw||950 (-54)||387 (-11)||12||-65||1349|
|4. Add renovated Brokaw||1000 (+50)||437 (+50)||12||+100||1449|
|* The figures for total beds include 128 N. Union and 122 N. Union St. but not the five guest-room beds in Plantz and Trever Halls.|
|5. Remove Plantz||870 (-130)||400 (-37)||12||-167||1282|
|Note: These numbers do not account for loss of beds due to renovation of other residential facilities.|
The Task Force believes that any new or renovated housing should maintain the integration of class years while providing a greater variety of housing options than is currently available. In order to continue to mix class years in residence units, it is essential that the quality of current housing stock be enhanced so that newly constructed units do not become so desirable that they disturb the balance. The Task Force believes that the presence of singles and suites in the older housing stock and new residence units that mix doubles with singles will help ensure the continued mixing of class years in residences across campus.
In the October 1998 Charge, the Board of Trustees declared that one of the reasons for undertaking a comprehensive review of residential life was to make sure that the college is "fair and equitable in its treatment of all students in the allocation of resources and the provision of housing, dining options, and co- and extra-curricular opportunities" (see Appendix B). The Board went on to state that, following completion of the review, it planned to implement policies that would "provide enhanced and equitable social and residential opportunities for all students." Given the emphasis on equity in its charge, the Task Force spent a considerable amount of time discussing the issue in relation to residential life at Lawrence. In drafting its statement of principles for residential life, the Task Force endorsed the goal of ensuring "equitable residential and social opportunities for all students."
In its consideration of equity, the Task Force concentrated on studying the provision of housing and food service options to student groups and organizations. It is clear to the Task Force that fraternities are treated differently from all others with respect to housing. Individual units of university-owned housing with kitchen and dining facilities are provided to fraternity chapters on a long-term open-ended basis. As no other student organization is accorded "ownership" of its housing on the same basis, the Task Force focused considerable attention on examining the allocation of the Quad to the fraternities.
Before 1941, Lawrence fraternity members had lived off-campus in private houses. President Henry Merritt Wriston (1925-37) believed, however, that the college would better fulfill the residential aspects of its mission if arrangements were made to accommodate fraternity members on campus. During the course of the 1930's, negotiations ensued between the college and the fraternities regarding the relinquishment of the private fraternity houses in exchange for occupancy privileges in five new buildings. Plans were devised and financing was arranged: of the total cost of approximately $285,000, $85,000 was contributed by donors; $55,000 was covered by the value of the surrendered fraternity houses; and $145,000 was borrowed from the endowment or represented deficit spending. By 1941 the quadrangle had been built, fraternity members had moved on campus and contracts to document the arrangement had been executed and delivered by the parties. Approximately 20 years later an additional house was added to the Quad to accommodate the Phi Gamma Delta chapter. When this chapter de-colonized, the building was added to general housing inventory and later became Draheim House.
In looking at the history of the Quad, the Task Force also gathered information on the pattern of student membership in Greek organizations. Since the 1960's, membership in Greek organizations at Lawrence has generally declined. In 1960, 58% of the student body was affiliated with Greek organizations (53% of men and 63% of women) but by 1970 that figure had declined to 38% (42% of men and 34% of women). In 1980 only 29% of the student body was Greek-affiliated (31% of men and 28% of women). During the 1980's there was increased interest in Greek organizations and by 1990 38% of students were members (43% of men and 32% of women). In the course of the 1990's numbers have declined somewhat with 24% of students affiliating in the 1999-2000 academic year (33% of men and 16% of women). Although interest in Greek organizations at Lawrence remains strong, it is clear that the majority of our current students do not choose to affiliate.
In contrast to the arrangements for fraternity residences, Lawrence has never provided separate housing for sororities. Although a Trustee Committee on Sorority Housing existed for much of the 1940's, it appears to have focused its attention on examining facilities for business and social activities only. As far as the Task Force has been able to determine, no recommendation was ever made to construct housing for sororities. When Colman Hall was built in the 1950's, the plans included a sorority wing to provide meeting rooms and a common kitchen (Colman Panhellenic Wing).
The nearest parallel to the system of fraternity housing can be found in the arrangements for the co-op house in which a multi-year commitment has been made to allocate the house for co-operative living (provided enough members could be found each year) and permit transfer of board dollars. Other aspects of the arrangements for the co-op house differ from the fraternities: the co-op house is established through LUCC legislation; space for the co-op house is allocated for limited terms; and members of the co-op house must provide annual reports on their progress to the Residence Life Committee of LUCC.
As the Task Force discussed how issues of equity pertain to the provision of housing to student groups and organizations, it agreed on some working principles to guide its final recommendations. The Task Force supports the principle that our students are entitled to associate freely and form groups and organizations of their own choosing. Student organizations contribute significantly to many of the goals of residential life enumerated in the Task Force's "Principles of Residential Life" (see Part II: Lawrence's Mission and the Residential Nature of the College). In particular, student-run organizations "support and encourage student leadership, independence, self-governance and accountability" and "provide opportunities for students to create and participate in a rich variety of co- and extra-curricular activities."
In addition, the Task Force endorses the current practice of permitting small groups of students to live together in college-owned housing. The Task Force recognizes, however, that the control and allocation of residential space play a central role in issues of equity. The Task Force has concluded that no student group or organization should have the right to permanent occupancy in any unit of college-owned housing and that allocating residential space to groups for specific periods of time (and being subject to renewal) will result in greater equity and accountability. Furthermore the allocation of college-owned housing should be based on clear and equitable rules.
In January 2000, the Board of Trustees issued an addendum to the Task Force's charge in which it endorsed the Task Force's working principles on equity and added the proviso that existing claims should be resolved equitably (see Appendix C). The Board also appended the following statement:
While the Board recognized at the outset that the outcomes of the Task Force's work would call for investments of various (though now unspecified) sorts, it at the same time now encourages the Task Force to undertake its further work with the understanding that proposed changes accepted by the Board, particularly relating to the assignment of residential spaces, will not be implemented until the appropriate alternative arrangements have been identified and, to at least a degree, implemented. Such alternative arrangements may involve new spaces for student organizations and/or new residential units or reconfigurations of existing ones. Included in the foregoing are the identification and creation of social spaces for the campus, whether in a new or renovated student union or elsewhere. In short, the Board anticipates that there will be an appropriate period of transition involved in responding to the possible outcomes recommended by the Task Force. Accordingly, it charges the Task Force to develop a detailed plan for residential life and a timetable for its implementation. This plan will respond to student needs and interests to make Lawrence a stimulating and spirited campus home for current and prospective students.
In response to the Board's request, the Task Force has developed a detailed proposal on Formal Group Housing (see Appendix E). The Task Force recommends the adoption of a new system of group housing for larger groups of students who have a shared mission and organizational structure. This system would incorporate the fraternities, the co-op house and any other clubs or organizations that may be interested in group housing. Under this plan, group housing would be allocated among student groups that can demonstrate that their shared group mission would be enhanced by group living and that their group possesses the needed organizational structure and willingness to be responsible for such housing. The Task Force believes that small group living units such as the co-op house and fraternities have the potential to facilitate the kind of interaction that "strengthen[s] the intellectual and social environment of the college, provide[s] role-models for individual development, and support[s] the establishment of meaningful relationships and long-lasting friendships." They can be ideal environments in which to "support and encourage student leadership, independence, self-governance, and accountability." Furthermore, the Task Force believes that by establishing clear expectations and criteria for group living, such units can play an important role in "nurtur[ing] an inclusive environment that promotes mature and responsible behavior, valu[ing] diversity and tolerance for differences, and encourag[ing] mutual respect and understanding." The Task Force has also heard anecdotally that the close relationships fostered by group living improves retention and connection to the college after graduation.
Consequently, the Task Force has established the goal of extending more broadly the opportunity for students to experience the benefits and rewards of small group living and of providing equitable access to any group willing to take on the added responsibilities enumerated in this proposal. The Task Force believes that expanding the opportunity for all students to experience the benefits of group living rather than reducing those opportunities for some groups provides the fairest solution to the problem of equity while also increasing the range of housing options available to all students. The Task Force expects that the following groups as they are currently organized might be eligible for formal housing: Sororities, Fraternities, Greek music organizations, the Co-op, and organizations currently occupying theme housing such as the Outdoor Recreation Club. In addition, the Task Force sees no reason why one house might not be shared by members of more than one group, if the groups agree on a house governance structure, shared mission, and use of common space.
The Task Force wishes to promote responsible use of residence units by organized groups and to support the longevity of such groups. Consequently, the Task Force recommends that formal groups be granted occupancy of university-owned housing units for periods of three years. Privileges of occupancy could be revoked if a group flagrantly violates the criteria on which the award was based or engages in egregious group violation of the Lawrence social code (as reflected in the disciplinary record of the group), pending review by the Formal Group Housing Review Board (see below). Defined terms of occupancy will ensure group accountability while at the same time fostering group continuity and stability. Formal group housing should be seen as a privilege and not as an assumed right.
During the course of their deliberations, members of the Task Force have been mindful of the fact that the Board is addressing legal issues related to equity separately and had charged the Task Force to avoid consideration of such matters. Nevertheless, in advancing this proposal for Formal Group Housing, the Task Force wishes to emphasize that its work has been predicated on the assumption that the Board will ensure that existing claims to residency in university-owned housing will be resolved equitably. The Task Force has developed a proposal that it believes will enable both existing and new formal groups to flourish and prosper at Lawrence. If the trustees endorse this proposal, it is essential that formal groups be assured that their continued access to housing will not be subject to arbitrary rescission.
The Task Force recommends that a body known as the Formal Group Housing Review Board (FGHRB) be formed and charged with the allocation of formal group housing. The Board should be comprised of the following members:
- Nine students, three of whom should be currently housed in formal group housing (such students have a unique perspective on the type of commitment and organizational structure needed to use group housing most effectively) No student who belongs to a group currently applying for group housing may serve as a member of the FGHRB.
- One Faculty member
- Dean of Students or designate
- Assistant Dean of Students for Residence Life, ex officio (non-voting)
The Task Force further recommends that LUCC be charged with selecting members to serve on FGHRB and devising an open process for their selection.
In order to be considered for allocation of housing, a formal group must submit a proposal to the FGHRB which should address the following requirements:
(1) Previous viability--a demonstrated history of active membership and responsible leadership for a minimum of the previous two years.
(2) A clearly articulated mission statement consistent with Lawrence's educational mission which addresses how communal living arrangements and the privilege of having shared living spaces within the housing unit enhance the group's activities. The mission should include a community service component.
(3) Presence of an organizational and governance structure through which the responsibilities of maintaining the residence, coordinating outreach/service activities, and organizing and managing group activities can be fulfilled.
(4) Identification of a house member who would serve as an RLA, be considered a member of the residence life staff and receive training and support from residence life.
(5) A commitment to welcome the rest of the LU community into the living space at least once per term, perhaps by sponsoring a meal, a speaker, a study break, or a party.
(6) A plan for providing food services to the group living in the residence.
(7) Ability to fill the facility at 90% occupancy on average for all 3 terms.
(8) A list of proposed residents which includes a mix of class years in order to foster the recruitment of knowledgeable leaders for future years.
(9) Identification of a faculty or staff advisor.
Following evaluation of applications, the FGHRB would allocate available formal group housing taking into consideration continuity and previous occupancy. During each group's subsequent three year tenure, members would be required to provide a brief annual progress report for review by the FGHRB. If the Board of Trustees approves the Task Force's proposal for Formal Group Housing, the Task Force recommends that LUCC be charged with developing a more detailed plan for implementation and evaluation as specified in the timeline below.
In order to expand the opportunities for group living, the Task Force recommends an increase in the total number of spaces dedicated to group living. The number of housing units dedicated to formal group housing should be flexible within the recommended total percentage of housing stock allocated for group living in order to accommodate varying levels of demand (see Part IV: Housing). The Task Force anticipates that the percentage of beds dedicated to group living will be kept roughly constant (about 25% of beds), but the distribution within this category may change as needs change. The Task Force proposes as an initial goal that 9-10 units with usable kitchens be established. After the first cycle of allocation, the number and size of housing units dedicated to formal group housing should be re-assessed based on student interest. Every effort should be made to allow formal groups to maintain their residence if all criteria for awarding formal housing are met. However, groups may be moved to a smaller facility if occupancy drops significantly and other, larger groups meet the criteria for group housing.
Proposed Timeline for Implementation of Formal Group Housing
Year 1 (2000-01)
Board of Trustees acts on Formal Group Housing recommendation.
LUCC develops detailed plan for implementation of Formal Group Housing.
Year 2 (2001-02)
Designate at least one small house or other residential unit (X) with commercial grade kitchen for formal group housing and conduct selection process for its allocation in 2002-03.
Year 3 (2002-03)
Small House X used as Formal Group House for first year of three-year cycle.
Designate at least one small house or other residential unit (Y/Co-op House) with commercial grade kitchen for formal group housing and conduct selection process for its allocation in 2003-04.
Select by lottery two Quad houses (A & B) and conduct selection process for their allocation in 2003-04.
Year 4 (2003-04)
Small House X in second year of three-year cycle.
Small House Y/Co-op and Quad houses A & B used as Formal Group Houses for first year of three-year cycle.
Designate at least one small house or other residential unit (Z) with commercial grade kitchen for formal group housing and conduct selection process for its allocation in 2004-05.
Select by lottery two Quad houses (C & D) and conduct selection process for their allocation in 2004-05.
Year 5 (2004-05)
Small House X in third year of three-year cycle.
Small House Y/Co-op House and Quad houses A & B in second year of three-year cycle.
Small House Z and Quad houses C & D used as Formal Group Houses for first year of three-year cycle.
Conduct selection process to allocate remaining Quad houses (E & F) and small house X for 2005-06.
Year 6 (2005-06)
Small House X and Quad houses E & F used as Formal Group Houses for first year of three-year cycle.
Small House Z and Quad houses C & D in second year of three-year cycle.
Small House Y and Quad houses A & B in third year of three-year cycle.
Note: This plan has been devised to ensure that current rising sophomores who joined fraternities in 1999-2000 have the opportunity to complete their senior year before implementation of the new system would affect existing fraternity houses.
The Task Force does not intend Formal Group Housing to replace small houses or theme houses. The Task Force supports the allocation of these forms of housing as currently administered by LUCC and the Office of Residence Life. It does, however, recommend one change in theme housing to be consistent with the formal group housing recommendations. An RLA, nominated from eligible students applying to live in the theme house, should be selected in collaboration with the staff of the Office of Residence Life. The RLA will be considered a member of Residence Life staff.
As indicated in the statement of principles of residential life, the Task Force has agreed that residential life at Lawrence should strive to "provide opportunities for students to create and participate in a rich variety of co- and extra-curricular activities" (see Part II: Lawrence's Mission and the Residential Nature of the College). Members of the Task Force believe that involvement in campus activities can play a central role in students' social and personal growth, and that participation in student groups and clubs fosters leadership, interpersonal skills, independence, self-governance and accountability.
Members of the Task Force conducted interviews with student leaders from a sampling of the more than 80 student clubs and organizations presently active on campus. For the most part, student groups function as autonomous units with self-defined purposes and activities. The level of interest and participation in various organizations ebbs and flows with time, and those that thrive seem to enjoy consistent, active student leadership. It has been difficult for some of the smaller student groups to sustain vitality when one or two active members leave campus for a term to study abroad and no other student steps up to fill the vacant leadership role.
It is apparent from data collected in the student opinion survey that students appreciate the number and variety of student organizations on campus and value highly the time they spend socializing with each other. The survey data, together with information gathered at student listening sessions held following the survey, confirm that Lawrence students are generally satisfied with campus social life. An overwhelming majority of respondents to the survey indicate that participating in campus organizations is important to their satisfaction with social life at college. Students confirm that their overall out-of-classroom experience enhances their life at Lawrence, and they indicate that a significant amount of time each week is spent studying, partying or simply spending time with friends. The Task Force affirms the need to create ways in which student, faculty, and staff interaction can "support the establishment of meaningful relationships and long-lasting friendships," one of the principles of residential life that the Task Force has identified.
The principal areas of concern regarding student social life relate to meeting space and facilities. Group meeting space is minimal on campus, and most meeting rooms in Downer Commons and the Union are heavily scheduled. Common space in many residence halls and small houses is limited, unattractive, poorly furnished and, in some cases, non-existent due to overcrowded living conditions or the physical layout of the facilities. Fraternities enjoy ample social space in the kitchen/dining areas and living rooms of the Quad but that space is typically perceived as available only for chapter-sponsored functions or parties. Similarly, the sorority wing of Colman Hall offers social spaces designated for use by members. The Coffeehouse in Memorial Union and meeting rooms in Diversity Center provide relatively new social spaces available to students, and they are popular meeting places. In each case, students had considerable involvement in the design of the space and provided input as to furnishings and decor.
In 1988 the Board of Trustees discussed renovation and expansion of the Union in order to accommodate campus needs more effectively. President Warch charged the Memorial Union Program Development Committee with the task of assessing the usage and limitations of Memorial Union. Although plans for a substantial renovation of the Union were developed, other campus needs subsequently took priority and renovation was deferred. It is clear to members of the Task Force that, in the intervening ten years, the need for student meeting and gathering space has only increased.
Visits to other colleges have informed Task Force members about ways in which campus centers and common meeting areas can have a dramatic impact on the quality of student life at residential colleges. It is clear that much of campus social life occurs during meals and at late night gatherings when students need a break from their academic pursuits. The lack of recent investment in a new or renovated campus center seems to put Lawrence at a competitive disadvantage when prospective students compare our facilities to those at other institutions and current students report a lack of suitable formal and informal meeting space.
Students express interest in a campus center that would include a coffeehouse, 24-hour study or lounge space, performance and programming areas, office and storage space for campus organizations, common areas for student organization meetings and student socializing, a bookstore and access to food service. The ability to gather in a centrally-located, accessible and welcoming campus center supports the exchange and evaluation of ideas and opinions; promotes the interaction of students, faculty, and staff; provides an inclusive environment, promoting responsible behavior, diversity, tolerance, mutual respect and understanding; and contributes to a safe and healthful campus.
A well-designed campus center complements residential life and dining services, supports the educational mission of the college and provides a setting for integrating various elements of the Lawrence experience. While the student residence functions as a "home base" for students and provides space for sleeping, studying and living, the reality is that tight quarters and competition for space with roommates and neighbors necessitate neutral spaces in an alternative location for social interaction and dining. Since most members of the campus community eat on a regular schedule, meals provide an opportunity for meetings and group activity, as well as personal relaxation and respite. Incorporating central campus dining in a new campus center will undoubtedly result in a campus cultural change. There will be a central location where all members of the community can come together to eat a meal, grab a snack, or read while drinking coffee. The Task Force envisions the campus center as a dynamic, inviting place characterized by heavy traffic, people lingering and enjoying conversation, informal interactions among students and other members of the community during meals, and an air of activity and energy. A new campus center offers the opportunity to create a lively gathering place for the campus community to come together, greet each other, eat together and share a common experience.
While a campus center must serve the needs of a variety of campus and community constituencies, it should remain essentially student-centered. A center should focus on student programmatic, recreational and service functions while also promoting interaction and meeting individual and campus organizational needs. A center should be designed to be flexible in order to better meet a broad range of needs now and in the future. In addition, space and facilities should be available to all students on an equitable basis and should enhance social opportunities for all Lawrentians.
The Task Force has developed a detailed Campus Center Program Statement outlining spaces and facilities to include in a new campus center (see Appendix F). Both formal programming and casual lounge and student meeting spaces are essential, and work/storage space for student organizations will enhance communication and relationships among student groups. Informal gathering spaces such as a gameroom, coffeehouse, 24-hour study lounge, food services venues, and a central mailbox and post office area will allow the campus center to play a central role in daily campus life. The following characteristics and features should figure prominently in the planning and design of a new campus center:
- Ambiance -- Warmth, intimacy and a casual ambiance should be created in a new facility, with attention to matters of scale, construction materials, color schemes and furnishings that provide for a warm, inviting and comfortable atmosphere.
- Crossroads -- The facility should become the figurative "crossroads" of the campus, i.e., facilities and services located within the facility should encourage and promote natural interaction and frequent use not only among students, but also among faculty, staff, and others as well.
- Inviting and Inclusive -- A campus center must be inviting and inclusive, a setting in which everyone feels and is welcome.
- Focal Point for Campus Life -- A campus center should support the academic program and give voice to the quality, richness and variety of the Lawrence experience. It should strengthen a sense of community on campus.
- Wellness Promotion -- Facilities should contribute to the health and well-being of campus constituents, providing space for relaxation, social interaction, educational enrichment, reflection and study. In a sense, the programs and facilities of a campus center should promote balance in the lives of members of the campus community.
- One-Stop-Shop -- A campus center should serve as a home to those service functions central to student life, providing students with a measure of "one-stop-shopping."
- Administrative Services -- Various administrative offices, which might benefit students and administrative functioning, could be located in the campus center. The location of administrative offices and other services should not diminish space dedicated to students for campus clubs and organizations, programming, social interaction, and relaxation.
The Task Force strongly recommends that planning and construction of a new campus center begin immediately. The Campus Center Program Statement (see Appendix F) should serve as the point of departure for a Campus Center Planning Committee that should be convened as soon as possible. The Task Force anticipates that Sasaki Associates' updated campus master plan (scheduled for completion in October 2000) will contain proposals for the siting of a new campus center and offer advice on related matters.
Appendix A: List of Materials Consulted by the Task Force
Appendix B: A Charge to the Lawrence Community from the Lawrence University Board of Trustees
Appendix C: Addendum to the Charge from the Lawrence University Board of Trustees to the Task Force on Residential Life
Appendix D: Summary and Analysis of Housing Stock
Appendix E: Formal Group Housing Proposal
Appendix F: Campus Center Program Statement