October 24, 2020
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SG discusses affordable housing, introduces bill

Caroline King
Staff Writer

Members listen to a proposal to make living on campus less expensive (Jennifer Somers / Staff Photographer).

Student Government heard a housing costs proposal and introduced one bill at its meeting in the Education Building Room 115 on Oct. 23.

Kelly Hennessy, the assistant vice president for student affairs, and Emily Thomas, the director of housing, spoke to SG about a proposal to make housing costs more equitable for the student body.

“Currently, the College charges a flat rate for housing across single, double and triple rooms. The new model would change to charge a base rate for doubles, a slight increase for singles and a slight decrease for triples and quads,” Hennessy said.

This new approach, called “differential housing,” would change the housing costs for those living on campus according to different types of rooms.

“At every other college, whether you have roommates or not makes a difference for your aid package — that change will be brought,” Thomas said. 

These changes would solely refer to the room type and not the building itself. Additionally, housing time slots would refer to room type rather than the buildings, meaning the room selection pool is reduced as the housing selection process goes on. 

“We did not want to make a model where some students would go to different buildings for lower costs, because they have older amenities,” Hennessy said. “The building itself will not be a blocker based on income.”

Hennessy said that to gauge a better understanding of the cost of housing, she examined the oldest buildings with the oldest amenities, as well as quads or triples within that building, to see what the lowest cost should be. This was ultimately juxtaposed with the cost of a single in a newer building with new amenities. The price difference was around $800.

Hennessy added that Student Affairs did not want “one building to be a ‘penthouse’ building” that was more costly and had better amenities than every other building. As a result, this proposal would allow students to pay for what they can afford. 

Both Hennessy and Thomas said there would need to be a two-year rollout for the complete changes to be made. In doing so, a slight change in cost would occur for the following school year and the finalized cost would be enacted the second academic year, 2021-2022.

While this proposal was the only one at the meeting, the Board of Trustees met on Oct. 29 to discuss this plan, as Hennessy and Thomas encouraged SG, as well as the entire student body to offer feedback at the meeting, and thereafter. 

SG then introduced one bill, B-F2019-12, Designated Cabinet Member for Initiatives. 

The bill stated that initiatives are to be reviewed by the Vice President for Government Affairs before being sent to the Executive President, in order to provide a formatting and feedback process for sponsors. The bill will most likely be voted on at SG’s next meeting.

College President Kathryn Foster will be in attendance for the next meeting on Oct 30. 

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