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Residential Council Minutes :: September 22, 2009


Present: Ben Lowell (Chair), Rachel Kahn (Program House Chair), Jillian Robbins (Lottery Chair), Courtney Mannino (Secretary), Greg Anderson, Jerry Cedrone, EJ Chung, Evan Holownia, Sara Slama, Jane Zhang

Tardy: Sara Sunshine, James Williams

Absent: Andrew Tran (excused), Sam Barney (excused)

Guests: Tom Forsberg

Introduction to Tom Forsberg, Associate Director of Residential Life
Going to speak about construction over summer
Dorm construction is one of the biggest questions that students have
Also, what is going to happen in the future?

Residential Life works with Facilities Management to set priorities about what needs to be done or what should be done
If we could renovate a building, what should be done first?
Metcalf is a priority building and if we don't have all the money, what should be done/fixed?
Want to continue to improve the environment in the dormitories; there are many more needs than what the university actually has in resources
Continuously update dorms
New Pembroke was renovated in 1991 and has received significantly attention than other buildings, but recent complaints from some of the residents in the complex has moved it up on the priority list

Summer Renovations:
This past summer, focused on life safety issues and hygiene.
Slater (shows before & after pictures): upgraded the bathrooms on the second and third floor
            Bathrooms feel larger because of new painting, lighting
            Created new bathrooms on the first floor (Slater connects through the basement, not on the first floor)
2 single use bathrooms on the first and fourth floors now (where there weren't bathrooms before)

Caswell: redid bathrooms because the fire escape was through the bathroom (however, it was not accessible)
Upgraded all bathrooms but could not put locks on the bathrooms because the fire escapes are through the bathrooms
There were kitchens on the second floors of each of the 3 towers (not very large or well taken care of)
Went downstairs to lounge, punched through wall of the non-working fireplace, and converted the basement to a double-room lounge/kitchen (fully functional)
Includes flat-screen tv (to be working soon once we get the delivery of the IPTV box)
Took 3 second floor kitchens and converted to doubles

New Furniture:
Also successful for identifying rooms that need new furniture:
Brand new bedroom furniture in Slater
New furniture in Old Barbour & Barbour apartments
New furniture in Hope and Littlefield
Barbour Hall Apartments: brought in all new kitchen tables and chairs
New living room furniture in all Young Orchard apartments
            Decided to buy new dining room furniture for one of the Young Orchard buildings (pieces removed are now being used as spares)
Bucket chairs out of Grad Center tower and replaced with chairs removed from Littlefield and Hope (at least a cushioned seat)

Furniture removal/replacement consumed 3 weeks, 9 hour days (minimum)
Furniture pulled out was recycled and sent to a company in New Hampshire (65 million tons recycled!!)
9 40-foot containers
Shipped to a warehouse in Jamaica that serves as a distribution point in the Caribbean

This Summer:
Update elevator in Minden Hall (very old, cannot have more than 4 people moving)
Want to put in a new one and also expand it so it will be accessible to EMTs
            Going to have impact on rooms immediately adjacent to the existing elevator
To install an elevator ideally takes approximately 17 weeks (especially if one must rebuild the shaft)
Things must dry, cement must set; However, we do not have 17 weeks
Bad scenario if the building had no elevator for 3 weeks of occupancy (probably during fall move-in)
Part of the project cost would include having professional movers assist students while moving in
But what about students who live on the 8th floor and have to walk upstairs everyday for three weeks (while the elevator is out of commission)?
We are trying - but the physics of building the elevator might limit our ability to speed up the project
Want elevator to be out of commission in fall (moving in) rather than moving out during the spring because of Senior Week (cannot do anything before finals)
Worry about seniors, incoming students moving in, and students who are unaware of the project when they choose the room during lottery
Move-in seems to carry with it some degree of support from others, whereas move-out doesn't
Roughly 20-beds per floor in Minden
Priority floors 5-8 (for professional movers)

1994: 5 buildings on Wriston renovated
1996: Buxton, Chapin, Wayland renovated 

ResLife spends a lot of time communicating with Facilities: don't want to fix one thing without the other (it seems easy to fix one thing at a time but really it’s more cost effective to do things at once)

2004: Emery, Woolly, Morris, Champlain - bathrooms and entire buildings were renovated

No roofs or exteriors fixed this summer
Faunce House got a fair amount of exterior work but none of the dormitories

Pretty well caught up with life and safety issues
Fire safety office still wants us to move toward programmable smoke detectors (computerized for each room as opposed to a vague location)
Costs much extra because of computer wiring in addition to the already existing wiring

What is being done about the renovation to Faunce House in relation to Hope College?
The university deals with union contracts and it is not realistic to tell them not to start until a certain time so students can sleep - but we have asked them to be sensitive to early morning hours and to minimize noise
7AM - 9AM period is most sensitive and they are working with us, but after 9AM, all bets are off
No received complaints from Hope residents (yet)
However, the project is just beginning
The workers are starting with the scaffolding and the arch will be shut down on Saturday (there will be a period when it will be permanently closed)
This is an inconvenience but renovations always are
However, when it's over, it's great and the hope is that the renovation outweighs the inconvenience endured during the project

In 2007, there was a set of priorities established and new residence halls were pretty high on the list
Because of the economy, this seems less possible - even now Brown is looking at a bleak year
There is hope this will improve but this will be a slow process
Funding for major initiatives (like a new dorm) would cost millions of dollars
Where would a new dorm even be put?
One of the drawings was looking at the green space on Wriston - building wings off the existing buildings to prevent the wasting of space for other buildings (academic building, per se)
But this would take away green space on Wriston
Always push/pull problems

All incoming freshmen were housed
61 people were spaced in rooms not intended to be dorm rooms (the freshmen were not the problem, rather it's the still-large sophomore class who were freshmen last year)
Lots of lounges in Keeney were converted to rooms
Want people to have access to kitchens so when moving people out and finding alternative housing, we want to move those current residents first before moving residents out of kitchen-free lounges
Want to move people out of rooms but are also looking for rooms to serve as a potential infirmary model (now that we are dealing with Swine Flu)

Break up into committees briefly to schedule committee meetings
Also want to discuss what was just spoken about

End meeting.

Submitted by Courtney Mannino, Residential Council Secretary, Fall 2009.