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LETTER

Seek Graduate Student Input

Despite a recent statement by the UA/GSC Strategic Planning Committee (available at ) that ranked community space as the most pressing capital need among all students, the cause of community space had a close call earlier this month. In the new graduate dorm, designed to house 750 graduate students, members of the senior administration proposed a radical redesign of the first floor to remove approximately two-thirds of the intended common space. This decision was made without the input of graduate students and was clearly contrary to prior student feedback. In addition, it contradicts recommendations by the Task Force on Student Life and Learning and the Sidney/Pacific Client Team. Both of these committees included students, faculty and administrative staff who made extensive efforts to garner graduate student input.

In a recent town hall meeting, Jeremy H. Brown G said, “The administration respects the student body as a resource, but not as a participant. To convince us otherwise, it must approach the students and say: ‘Here’s an idea, help us flush it out,’ and not: ‘Here is what is going to happen, what color would you like it painted?’” We couldn’t agree more.

Fortunately, through frank discussion with graduate students, the senior administration realized the detrimental effect this conversion would have on residential student life. We also appreciate the willingness of the senior administration to prioritize graduate student community space while balancing other Institute needs.

While we are pleased that this issue was resolved quickly, however, we remain disappointed with the circumstances with which it surfaced. Early in the design phase of this dorm, graduate student input was called upon to prioritize the allocation of space. Graduate students advocated a design that included substantial community space in the form of common kitchens, study lounges, and function rooms. To create this space, it was necessary to increase the density of students in the living areas, a compromise that graduate students made in order to ensure the inclusion of community spaces in the design. When it became apparent that the administration wished to reallocate this space, it created a strong feeling of broken trust among the volunteers who had worked on the design.

Sidney/Pacific will be the largest dorm on campus and designing it without sufficient community space would ensure that it performs as poorly as some other graduate dorms in building graduate student community.

Other issues with regards to the community within the new dorm remain to be resolved. We are currently working with faculty and the administration to establish a founders group that will examine community development issues more thoroughly. This founders group will aspire to be representative of all future residents of the dorm and may address issues such as the inclusion of additional positions for faculty or student community coordinators. Sidney/Pacific will house 750 graduate students and its effectiveness in building community will have an impact not only on its residents but on the entire graduate student community.



Jennifer Farver G Ashdown House President

Erik Deutsch G Edgerton House President

Salil Soman G Tang Hall Representative