To: Members of the Lawrence community
From: Michael Orr and Nancy Truesdell on behalf of the Task Force on Residential Life
Subject: An invitation to comment
Date: April 7, 2000

In January the Task Force on Residential Life presented an interim report to the Board of Trustees. The report outlined the directions in which the Task Force was headed in preparing its findings and recommendations for the Trustees' consideration. The Board of Trustees accepted the interim report and approved an addendum to its original charge to the Task Force, as a means for providing more formal feedback and further guidance to the Task Force. As part of its work since January, the Task Force has held a series of listening sessions with alumni and conducted discussions with groups of students and staff. The Task Force would now like to take the opportunity to update the campus and the extended Lawrence community more broadly on its progress in some key areas and to invite further community input.

To facilitate campus discussion, members of the Task Force will attend several open meetings in Riverview Lounge in order to answer questions and hear community reaction. The meetings have been scheduled for Wednesday, April 12 at 4:30 p.m. and Thursday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. Lawrentians who are off-campus and alumni are also invited to share their comments on the following via letter or email. The Task Force anticipates submitting a final report for consideration by the Board of Trustees in October. Any final recommendations contained in the report will, of course, be subject to Board approval.

Food Service

The interim report of the Task Force stated that, in order to fulfill its residential mission, Lawrence should ensure that it provides a high quality food service that is responsive to student needs. While acknowledging the dedication and enthusiasm displayed by food service employees, the Task Force believes that many aspects of the college's food service could be improved to meet more fully the needs of the student body. An independent food consulting company, Cornyn and Fasano, has been engaged to work collaboratively with the Task Force and Food Services on a range of issues including adequacy of facilities, cost, management, food preparation/ delivery, flexibility in meal plan options, hours of service, and menu items. The consultant will make several visits to campus and will meet with student focus groups, Food Services, the Task Force, and other staff members.

Housing

The Task Force has assessed the quality and configuration of residential housing in residence halls, small and theme houses, and fraternities. In its interim report, the Task Force stated that inadequacies in current housing put Lawrence at a competitive disadvantage, that our occupancy rate is too high and that significant additional capacity in housing will be required. The Task Force believes that a total upgrade of housing at Lawrence is needed: additional new units of housing, greater diversity of housing options, and renovation of existing facilities.

The Task Force is examining a range of potential options for adding new units of housing including:

In considering the renovation or reconfiguration of existing facilities, the Task Force is discussing the desirability/feasibility of recommending the following:

Formal Group Housing

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 ensure 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." In its interim report, the Task Force expressed support for the principle that students be entitled to associate freely and form groups and organizations of their own choosing, and endorsed the current practice of permitting small groups of students to live together in college-owned housing (as facilities allow). Recognizing that the control and allocation of residential space plays a central role in issues of equity, the Task Force advanced the proposition that no student group or organization should have a permanent claim to occupancy in any unit of college-owned housing and the principle that the allocation of college-owned housing should be based on clear and equitable rules.

The Trustees endorsed the Task Force's statement of general principles on residential life and the specific working principles that apply to matters of equity, including free association and the proposition that no group or organization should have a permanent claim to campus housing. On the latter point, the Trustees stated a proviso that existing claims to specific housing must be resolved equitably, and charged the Task Force to include in its work the development of a detailed plan for allocating college-owned housing based on clear and equitable rules, as well as a timeline for implementation.

The Task Force is examining the feasibility of a new system for group housing that would incorporate the fraternities, the co-op house and any other clubs or organizations who may be interested in formal group housing. Under this plan, group housing would be allocated to student groups that could 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 wishes to promote responsible use of residence units by organized groups and to support the longevity of such groups. Consequently, groups might be awarded housing for a renewable period, dependent on periodic evaluation. Applications by such groups for renewal of their housing allocation would also be subject to evaluation. Allocation and evaluation of group housing might be handled by the residence life committee of LUCC or some other committee with student representation. In order to expand the opportunities for group living, the Task Force is considering recommending an increase in the total number of spaces dedicated to group living. Formal group housing might be phased in over a number of years with a limited number of housing units becoming available for group applications/renewal each year.

In order to facilitate a sense of community on-campus, the Task Force is considering recommending that students in group houses participate in a minimal board plan. Consideration is also being given to the desirability of providing common meeting, storage, and other space on campus for those formal groups lacking housing.

Criteria for group housing might include the following:

(a) Previous viability -- a demonstrated history of active membership and responsible leadership for a minimum of the previous 2 years.

(b) A clearly articulated group mission -- one that is enhanced by communal living arrangements. Group activities should support the mission of the college in some tangible way.

(c) Presence of an organizational/governance structure -- including a house manager through whom the added responsibilities of maintaining the residence can be distributed.

(d) A written set of house procedures -- including procedures for the allocation of rooms, grievance procedures and a mechanism for choosing leaders/leadership transition.

(e) A mechanism for recruiting new members.

(f) Identification of a house member(s) who would be considered a member of the residence life staff, receiving training and support from residence life.

(g) Campus outreach -- A commitment to welcome the rest of the LU community into the living space on a regular basis (perhaps by sponsoring a meal, a speaker, a study break, a party).

(h) Ability to fill the facility for all 3 terms.

(i) Residents should include sophomores, juniors and seniors -- a mixture of class years will foster the recruitment of leaders for future years.

Campus Life

The Task Force anticipates making a final recommendation to the Board that will call for the building of a new and significantly larger campus center. Ideas under consideration as part of this recommendation include

Call for Comment

We hope that all interested students, faculty, staff, and alumni living in the Fox Cities can attend one of the two open meetings in Riverview Lounge scheduled for Wednesday, April 12 (4:30 p.m.) and Thursday, April 13 (7:00 p.m.).

Alumni and others off-campus wishing to share their views may contact any one of the following Task Force representatives.

Nancy Truesdell (co-chair)
Office of the Dean of Students
Raymond House
Lawrence University
711 East Boldt Way
Appleton, WI 54911-5626
(920) 832-6596
Nancy.D.Truesdell@lawrence.edu

Michael Orr (co-chair)
Art Department
Wriston Art Center
Lawrence University
711 East Boldt Way
Appleton, WI 54911-5626
(920) 832-6940
Michael.T.Orr@lawrence.edu.

Jeffrey Riester, '70 (Trustee liaison)
P.O. Box 2728
Appleton, WI 54911-5626
(920) 830-2800
jriester@gklaw.com