Conversations regarding the housing legislation proposed by the Residence Life Committee two weeks ago continued at the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) General Council meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 2.
That legislation, which has since been withdrawn, proposed one-year housing compacts for all group housing and the placement of group housing under the authority of LUCC, rather than having formal group housing managed by Campus Life, the office responsible for operations of residence halls and campus houses.
Senior Jazmin Astwood-Padilla voiced concerns over this legislation and proposed new LUCC by-laws, which would prevent administration from drafting legislation. “Matters such as formal group and theme housing should not be put into the hands of administration who do not live on campus and do not understand how a change in housing legislation may greatly affect students on campus” said Astwood-Padilla.
“I wish to present an amendment to the LUCC by-laws stating that ex officio members are no longer able to write legislation” summarized Astwood-Padilla, speaking to LUCC during the time allotted at general council meetings for community members to voice concerns.
The LUCC by-laws list staff serving on standing committees as members ex officio, or by the nature of their office. The student handbook describes this as “a reflection of the fact that LUCC is a society composed solely of students and faculty,” and describes the duties of ex officio members as having “all the rights, privileges and duties of other committee members” except those to make motions, second, vote and chair a committee.
Astwood-Padilla also called for an amendment under the Residence Life Committee that ensures that the “Dean of Students, or Dean of Students’ appointee” be considered an ex officio member.
Concerns were voiced over the fact that the Residence Life Committee has the authority to amend or ignore suggestions from Campus Life when drafting legislation. Astwood-Padilla responded, “many members of [the Residence Life Committee] were not for this legislation…but administration who proposed it continued to press the issue, which is why it was brought to general council.”
Amy Uecke, Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life, responded that Campus Life “felt comfortable turning [housing authority] over to students, instead of administration…it made sense for us to put that into the coffers of the Residence Life Committee, so that they could…come up with some legislation.” While she agreed that Campus Life had had a role in writing the housing legislation, “the whole impetus for all of this was to give more power to the Residence Life Committee.”
Senior Tom Sasani, who was standing in as chair of the Residence Life Committee at the meeting, said that although he was aware that the housing legislation had been originally brought up by Campus Life, Residence Life discussed the proposed legislation at length, and that he “did not in any way feel coerced into supporting this legislation.”
Senior Brienne Colston stated that this issue “is part of a larger conversation about … the lack of trust that some students, i.e. marginalized students, have in administration.”
Concerns over what constitutes “writing legislation” according to Astwood-Padilla’s proposed amendments were also discussed. “This isn’t legislation,” said Mallory Speck, senior and chair of the Student Welfare Committee, describing the document that Campus Life originally shared with the Residence Life Committee. “This is a conversation starter; these are ideas.”
Astwood-Padilla responded by comparing copies of the ideas Campus Life shared with the Residence Life Committee and the proposed housing legislation.
The issue of amending LUCC by-laws was then tabled for voting at the next general council meeting.