Appeals process divides General Council

On Thursday, May 12, the Group Living Selection Board met again to reconsider Anchor Loft’s group living application. With five members of the board replaced by alternates, Anchor Loft was granted the choice of 128 N. Union St., currently designated as Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever (GLOW) House, or the remaining Colman Loft, even though the group applied for neither of these spaces.

By the end of the 72-hour appeal period, a total of five appeals had been made. “We’ve never had an appeals mechanism before,” said sophomore and Chair of Residence Life Committee Dan Thomas-Commins. In previous years, applicant groups brought concerns to General Council. According to Thomas-Commins, many of these concerns were related to dissatisfaction with the board’s decision, not bias or discrimination.

Appeals were supposed to be evaluated by junior and Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) President Max Loebl. Because Loebl was on the housing roster of a group that made an appeal, he was unable to make the decision as to which appeals would be brought to General Council.

Junior and LUCC Vice President Jo-Hanna Rifai was on the housing roster for Anchor Loft and was also unable to assume this responsibility. As a result, the Residence Life Committee decided by majority vote that only Anchor Loft’s appeal had significant enough evidence to be brought to General Council.

It was freshman Anna Pell, the Residence Life Manager (RLM) of Anchor Loft, who wrote the appeal in which she claims she felt immediately rejected by the Group Living Selection Board during the interview portion of the application process. She claimed that several questions pertained to her group’s collective identity as Delta Gammas—some of which questioned the values of the Delta Gamma sorority, insinuating that these values were unrelatable and exclusive.

“Friendship and the empowerment of women are not exclusive nor specific to Delta Gamma,” wrote Pell. “I didn’t understand why I had to reiterate this so many times during the interview in addition to the explanation.”

In fact, when reviewing the notes taken during the selection board meeting, the Residence Life Committee found that one of the board members gave Anchor Loft a score of zero for every section of the rubric. This, as well as input from members of the Residence Life Committee who served on the board, was the basis of the decision to reconsider Anchor Loft for group living due to unfair bias.

When the decision to reconsider Anchor Loft was made at an Executive Council meeting on May 9, Executive Council and Residence Life Committee were unaware that the minutes from the Group Living Selection Board meeting incorrectly stated that Mary’s Loft, which Anchor Loft originally applied for, was still open. It was later discovered that Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia had been assigned this space. In order to remedy this situation, Anchor Loft was offered the choice of two other spaces.

Both of the spaces offered to Anchor Loft had a greater number of beds than Mary’s Loft, the space the group originally applied for. As a result, the group had to recruit additional residents by Monday, May 16, or the offer would expired. Even though Anchor Loft was able to make these arrangements in time to accept Elihu’s Loft, Pell and Rifai still had concerns about the ways in which bias affected the outcome of their group living assignment.

On May 16, Pell and Rifai brought their concerns to General Council. Rifai expressed that despite the appeal process, her group was not offered a fair chance at getting the space they wanted. “If I hadn’t been part of LUCC, I wouldn’t have known half of what was going on and we probably wouldn’t have ended up with the loft,” said Rifai when addressing General Council.

Several class representatives expressed concerns about the appeals that were not brought forward. Sophomore Class Representative Harrison Barber said, “As we move forward, we need to make sure no one has that ability, that if General Council requests something relating to a decision like this, it must be brought forward.”

Others were upset that the group living selection process was being wrapped up so close to general housing selection. In regard to the Group Living Selection Board’s proposed assignments, Junior Class Representative Adam McDonald pointed out that “it seems like we—as a body—have been given absolutely no time to make a decision.” Had General Council rejected the decisions of the Group Living Board, housing selection would have been delayed, something no representative wants to be responsible for.

The group living slate proposed by the Group Living Selection Board was approved by General Council on Monday, May 16, with Anchor Loft awarded Elihu’s Loft and GLOW House’s current location, 128 N. Union St., left unassigned. “The rooms in 128 N. Union St. will be selected for during doubles selection.” said Thomas-Commins. “However, I believe Res Life has to formally authorize that decision.”