Marc Wais, New York University’s Vice President for Student Affairs, today announced that the University would hold three town hall meetings next week to solicit broad student input on a set of significant proposed changes to the NYU undergraduate student housing system that will go into effect in the fall of 2006. The town hall meetings, which will all begin at 8:00 pm, will be held in the Lafayette St. Residence Hall on Monday, March 7th; in Hayden Hall on Tuesday, March 8th; and in the Palladium Residence Hall on Thursday, March 9th.
The housing system changes to be discussed will not affect the spring 2005 lottery or housing placements in fall 2005.
The recommendations to be discussed were developed by the Undergraduate Residential Life Working Group, which was convened to consider approaches to enhancing the undergraduate residential life experience for upperclassmen. The Working Group was composed of students, faculty, and administrators. Advice will be sought on the following Working Group recommendations:
- Determining the best method for enhancing the focus on the sophomore year in residential living - preference would be given to sophomores in housing, either through a) creating a sophomore cluster in the Union Square area and Lafayette Street (akin to the arrangement now in place for freshmen) or b) giving sophomores top priority in the housing selection (lottery) process.
- Determining the placement of important residential life programs - changes in sophomore room assignments may have impacts on several existing residence life programs, including Greek life, Explorations theme floors, and Choices.
- Determining what efforts to undertake to enhance the residential experience for juniors and seniors - with room assignment procedures and programming in place for freshmen and sophomores by fall 2006, attention must be given to what options should the University offer to juniors and seniors to enhance their undergraduate residential experience, including theme options, policy changes, or special amenities.
- Determining how transfer students should be incorporated within new housing procedures - as new procedures and programming are put into place, focus must also be placed on what level of seniority or preferences are to be accorded to transfer students.
The proposed changes to the student housing and residential education system to be discussed in the town hall meetings in March come on the heels of significant changes already put in place.
Marc Wais said, “Whether in the presidential transition reports or in the Middle States review, or simply in casual conversations with students, improving the residential life component of the undergraduate experience routinely emerges as a crucially important element in improving the undergraduate experience overall. We have already taken important steps: our freshman clustering efforts, and the connected programming; our expansion of the faculty-in-residence program; the creation of peer educators in residence; enhancement of RA training; and the establishment and growth of the Explorations program, to name just a few.
“However, many people believe that a focus on sophomore year may be just as important as a focus on freshman year. Sophomore year is its own variety of transitional year: students no longer get the attention they once got as freshmen, but they do not have the fully solidified social and academic structures that come as they enter junior year. Those challenges are compounded by having the least seniority when it comes to room assignments. Moreover, we are just as concerned with enhancing the quality of life in the residences for our juniors and seniors.
“That’s why we think this set of proposed changes to the housing system for sophomores is so important. However, the exact method of implementation is something that has yet to be decided, so we are very eager to get student input through the town hall meetings and the other avenues for communication that we will establish. We also are counting on student input to shape our strategy in upgrading the junior and senior year in residence, along with accommodating transfer students and our existing residential life programs.”
The Working Group has established a website with a Powerpoint presentation of its findings, recommendations, and issues, as well as a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section; its URL is http://www.nyu.edu/student.affairs/housing.lottery2006/. In addition to town halls, students wishing to offer guidance on the changes to the housing system can email email@example.com.
The Working Group on Undergraduate Residential Life was formed as a follow-up to the Middle States Association self-study review in May. Co-chaired by Tom Ellet, Assistant Vice President for Residential Education; Vice Provost Sharon Weinberg; and sophomore Tori Chami, chair of the Inter Residence Hall Council (IRHC), the group has 24 members, including students, faculty, and administrators.