Students raise concerns over accessibility of summer housing

Front of Plantz Hall facing College Avenue. Photo by Alana Melvin.

With summer nearing, many students staying on-campus over the break will be moving into new residence halls. Plantz, Small Exec and Big Exec will be used for housing this summer. For the previous two years, Hiett had been the hall for summer housing.  

Chris Clarke, Dean of Students, commented on the plans for summer housing. Clarke stated that the residence halls were chosen due to infrastructure work that’s going to be done over the summer in Kohler, Brokaw, Sage and Colman Halls, as well as the replacement of the Drew Street Bridge.  

According to Clarke, Residential Education (ResEd) identified Plantz as the best available option due to these circumstances. The return of summer programs and conferences further informed the decision. He stated that the aim of the summer offerings was to accommodate as many students as possible. 

Clarke relayed ResEd’s rationale for the shift, saying that student feedback was part of what drove the change.  

According to an anonymous student, some students last year were upset about having to live in Hiett’s quads with other students they didn’t know. According to Clarke, once it became apparent that Plantz was less than optimal for summer housing as Hiett, ResEd attempted to switch back. However, by then, Clarke said that the building had been contracted out for a number of events and conferences, making the switch impossible. 

The Lawrence University Disability Working Group (LUDWiG) expressed concerns about the accessibility of Plantz. Being an older building, Plantz is not equipped with an elevator or air conditioning (AC). According to members of LUDWiG, when they reached out to admin about the issues, they were assured that AC would be put in the first-floor lobby.  

Front of Plantz Hall facing College Avenue. Photo by Alana Melvin.

One LUDWiG member added that there have historically been issues with summer housing accommodations. They explained how they were originally denied single housing for summer last year and had to remind ResEd about the Fair Housing Act in order to get accommodation. Once they brought up the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits all kinds of discrimination in housing, including because of disability, they said that ResEd provided them the single.   

Clarke confirmed that the common area on the ground floor of Plantz will be air conditioned. He added that some window AC units are planned to be installed in Plantz, and that each room will be supplied with a fan to help alleviate the hotter temperatures. Clarke said that Lawrence will continue exploring options to better meet students’ needs. 

According to Clarke, there are currently 120 applicants for summer housing.  

Bon Appetit will not be open during the summer and there will be no summer meal plan option, leaving students to primarily feed themselves using the halls’ kitchens. Clarke stated that additional fridges and microwaves will be added to Plantz to accommodate the large demand. 

The anonymous student spoke on the limited kitchen space in Plantz. According to this student, Hiett’s three kitchens were constantly in-use when they stayed last year for summer housing. The student argued that the focus on microwaves and lack of stove space in Plantz would promote an unhealthy diet.