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Residential Council Minutes :: October 6, 2009


Present: Ben Lowell (Chair), Andrew Tran (Policy Chair), Rachel Kahn (Program House Chair), Jillian Robbins (Lottery Chair), Courtney Mannino (Secretary), Greg Anderson, Sam Barney, Jerry Cedrone, Evan Holownia, Sara Slama, Sara Sunshine, James Williams

Absent: EJ Chung (excused)

Guests: Toms Forsberg


2 discussion points: proposal submitted by the policy committee regarding gender neutral housing and updates about the housing lottery that we need to start thinking about now.

Proposal from policy committee:
Proposal for gender neutral housing for program houses: ResCouncil can recommend that ResLife allow program houses to apply for gender neutral status (need signatures from 2/3 of the house), representative of program house must attend a ResCouncil meeting, explain their case and can either be approved/denied, decision (if made before super-deadline day) will be implemented before the fall of next year.
Petition, letter of intent, coming to a council meeting to inquire about why the house wants to become gender neutral - really want to balance barriers about becoming gender neutral with the idea that some houses on campus already have this privilege.

Gender neutral programming has been in the same buildings for 2/3 years now; ResLife is really starting to look at this entire program as a whole, what we want out of it and where we see it going.
Even if a house were to go through this entire process, would ResLife really let this house go gender neutral (considering this to be a really big decision and there is a need to evaluate how this affects the rest of the campus)?

This year's gender neutral committee is led by Natalie Basil; student participants are from a number of different constituencies (some representatives from ResCouncil).

Potential backlash because buildings (like Marcy) are already gender neutral?
Unfortunately, those building choices were not our decisions.
Is this even really going to be a problem?

What about how the program house leaders allocate the spaces?
Program houses can change the rooms they use each year.
Just because a student requests gender neutral, does not mean that he/she will be granted gender neutral.
Problem with West House: such a small house (14 beds), so they've been forced to make decisions about who they admit to the house based on gender.

This matter is more pertinent for program houses because they must give a list to ResLife of who is in their house - for bigger houses, this allows for potential "unofficial switching around" of room assignments. *This policy might benefit smaller spaces.

Motion to vote on the proposal for gender-neutral housing application:
Motion passes, 10-0, with one abstaining.


Movement towards the lottery:
Rising sophomores undoubtedly are the most stressed out about the process.
How can we alleviate this stress?
After night 1 of the lottery, count remaining beds available and tell rising sophomores at the end of the list not to come to lottery because there is no current placement for them (problem: if number 699 does not want a one room triple, and we cut the number of people permitted to come at 700, what happens if 704 does want that one room triple?)
Pre-lottery building assignment: rising sophomores going into night 2 know what building they will be living in (example, Caswell, Barbour)
Potential problem: makes lottery that much more complicated for us because we have to be constantly checking occupancy and the number of people choosing that building versus the number that previously signed up for residency in that building.

What if we break the lottery into nights depending on what rooms the group wants (doubles, singles, triples, suites?) Forces someone ahead of time to think of what room they want to pick as opposed to coming to lottery and choosing whatever is left.
With this system, sophomore night can be a week later than junior/senior night and nights 2a (perhaps singles and suites) and 2b (doubles, larger occupancy rooms) can be a week apart in order to allow group reformation - something that is a possibility.
Really, we need to think more creatively about how to help sophomores.

Worthwhile definitely to look at spreading out junior/senior and sophomore nights.
There are always some sophomores who are confident about their room selections but the more time between nights, the more someone is able to think about and become realistic about what housing they might get.

Maybe we can put floor plans up sooner? Increase availability of options for sophomores?
At the very least, can we limit the number of people who show up per hour.

Choosing at the lottery enables a sense of accountability for one's room.
What about an online system? Too many possibilities for glitches?
How is this process done at other universities?

Brown really wants people to have options - it's difficult to compare our hosing selection process with other institutions because we have such a huge variety of housing open to students of all undergraduate levels - other university living is more uniform and restrictive.

Maybe we can limit the number of people we tell to come to lottery but also let them know a couple days after the lottery what rooms are still left - gives them more time to think about what they want and enables them the ability to bypass the summer assignment process (groups that still want a one room triple can choose such a room).

This option should be available for groups that have two options: choosing a one room triple or passing.
Anyone who is a forced pass, come into ResLife and look at options still available (mainly one room triples).

Last year, people stopped picking rooms around number 674.
From 674 - 718, only 2-3 no-shows and most people just choose big occupancy rooms.
Are people still going to show up out of worry for not being at the 'bottom' of the summer assignment process?
Well, the process is semester level appropriate and it is much more complicated to define priority.
Maybe we can suggest having groups come a couple days later (after lottery night) and let groups pick from rooms that are left based on priority number.

What about making additional dorms sophomore only (Grad Center, Barbour doubles)?
Because of the still large rising junior class, this would be hard to implement next year.

End meeting.

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