January 26, 2000

At its January meeting, the Board of Trustees was presented with an interim report by the Task Force on Residential Life. 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 expressed its appreciation for the good work of the Task Force. The Board also approved an addendum to its original charge to the Task Force, as a means for providing more formal feedback and further guidance as the Task Force proceeds with its work in the coming months.

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's interim report additionally observed that in order to fulfill its residential mission, Lawrence must 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 current food service do not adequately meet the needs of the student body. To more fully address issues of management, adequacy of facilities, cost, food preparation/delivery, and flexibility in meal plan options, hours of services, and menu items, the Task Force proposed that the college investigate alternatives to the current food service model. In its addendum to the charge, the Board of Trustees empowered the Task Force to acquire any information from outside sources necessary to help determine improvements to food service.

The Task Force is also examining the quality and configuration of residential housing, in all residence halls, small and theme houses, and fraternities, as well as the desirable occupancy rate for campus housing. The Task Force has identified a number of positive aspects about the college's current arrangements for housing. In contrast to many other schools, for example, Lawrence has successfully built a sense of community within residential facilities among students of different class years. Nevertheless, Task Force members expressed the belief that inadequacies in current housing put Lawrence at a competitive disadvantage and that significant additional capacity in housing will be required. In its final report, the Task Force anticipates making specific recommendations for the Board's consideration concerning renovation of existing facilities and construction of new units of housing.

The need for more and better group meeting space for campus activities and the ability of the current Union to accommodate campus life activities are also concerns the Task Force plans to address in its final report. Although the Task Force has not yet reached specific conclusions in the area of campus life, it is certain that the final report will contain a recommendation that a new or substantially renovated campus center be developed.

It is anticipated that the Task Force's final report will be presented to the Board of Trustees at its October meeting.

Jeff Riester, Trustee Liaison to the Task Force


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

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

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