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Students Take Action Fighting Housing Policy

Sophomore Resident Initiated Conversations with Administrators, Drew Up Petition in Opposition

Heights Editor

Published: Monday, February 28, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

When Anthony Russo, resident of the apartments at 2000 Commonwealth Avenue, and CSOM '13, opened an e-mail from Archstone, property manager of the apartments, he was struck with disappointment. Just a few days into his new residence, after spending a semester residing in sophomore dormitories on College Road, he was informed that starting on Feb. 17 two new community guidelines for the apartments would take effect.

The first policy change prohibited kegs in the building. The second, however, shocked Russo and other residents: the number of guests per apartment at any one time would be limited to four.

"The change put a damper on what I expected after moving here from on campus," Russo said. "I looked forward to gathering with friends without having to be in a crowded dorm on campus. I thought residents would be just as disappointed as me and Archstone would soon change it."

But for Russo and other residents sharing his frustrations, the change never came and the Feb. 17 date for the guideline to take effect was fast approaching.

"Time was running out," Russo said. "If nobody did something, then nothing would have happened. People just assumed that others were voicing their opposition to the change. However, when I met with Erin Fronrath [community manager] at 2000, she mentioned that she had not heard any complaints."

The lack of formal complaints to management was in contrast to the complaining that Russo had heard among students about the new policy. This also differed from complaints about the policy on social networking sites.

The policy, and the lack of a student voice on the matter, prompted Russo to meet with administrators, management at the apartments, and circulate a petition expressing opposition to the guest limit. Russo's petition drew 55 signatures from residents at the apartments.

"As soon as I went to doors with a petition I was met with responses like, ‘Oh, finally a petition,'" Russo said. "When I knocked on doors, people wanted to sign it. They mentioned they wanted the policy to change, but did not know where to start."

Sean Dikdan, resident of the apartments and A&S '12, said he agreed with Russo's perspective of the issue and commended him for his action.

"I agreed with the intent of the petition and the opposition effort," Dikdan said. "I commend the people behind the petition. They stood up for what they believed and followed through with it. They stood up for their fellow residents as well."

Russo said he understood his fellow residents not knowing who to talk to about the issue, but the lack of action against the policy prompted Russo to meet with administrators and take action in opposition.

"I didn't know where to start, either," he said. "When we received notice of the new rules, it was presented as here is the rule and deal with it. There was no information on where to go if you had questions or concerns. I initially contated ResLife. They referred me to Dean Chebator. He understood where the residents and I were coming from and helped get us answers on the new rules. He discussed the problems 2000 had been experiencing with the conduct of some residents on weekends, but he also understood that socializing is a major part of the lives of college students. He understood our desire for more than four guests."

Paul Chebator, senior associate dean for student development, agreed with the strictness of the four-guest rule, but also understood the need to respond to complaints.

"I am not sure how the number four was arrived at, but it was," Chebator said. "I do know that the policy changes were a result of complaints of neighbors as well as some residents of 2000 who have been bothered by noise and conduct on weekend evenings. However, the University is aware that there are many situations where students would want to gather in their residences with more than four guests. Family visits, group studying, and responsible socializing are all events where more than four people gathering is a legitimate desire."

Chebator said that the activism of students alerted him and other administrators to student concerns that required addressing. "When students state legitimate and reasonable concerns, we will respond in a way to support students," he said. "Due to the advocacy of students like Anthony Russo for a change in the new guidelines, [ODSD] felt it was worth talking with Archstone about."

The community guidelines did take effect on Feb. 17 as announced, but the expression of concern by residents prompted management at 2000 Comm. Ave. on Feb. 16 to agree to review the changes. BC administrators will be meeting with Archstone management at 2000 Comm. Ave. this week.

"The case with the policy changes at 2000 was unfortunate," Chebator said. "Students' concerns and frustrations should have been answered, but I feel this issue will be resolved in a way that takes into consideration the concerns of neighbors, Archstone, residents of 2000 who are annoyed by noise, and residents who desire to socialize responsibly."

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