Senate Beat: Senate Pushes for Winter Housing Changes

Tuesday’s Senate meeting was brief, as senators efficiently worked through their agenda. The main topics discussed were the discovery of unreinforced masonry on campus and potential changes to on-campus winter housing. The meeting was also interspersed with updates from the midterm elections.

Senator Pax Lloyd-Burchett, after his own experiences of confusion and difficulty with the application, began investigating the winter housing application process. Another student expressed their shared confusion with the process, wishing to know more about the application review process. Because winter housing requests sometimes involve personal matters, especially complicated family dynamics, students would like to know the members of the committee reading their application. Similarly, it is unclear how much detail the committee needs about an individual’s situation to accurately assess an application. Students also found that the denials were vague and the appeals process confusing and intimidating.

Dean of Students Bruce Smith added that there should be an administrative review about winter housing and its capacity. He believed that there was not a strict limit on the number of students eligible for winter housing: unlike summer housing, winter housing is limited by lack of staffing, rather than lack of space. Some buildings, however, need maintenance.

Potential solutions discussed include anonymizing the housing applications, creating a system where confidential resources (like SAPR or the HCC) can sponsor an application, and generally working to demystify the process for students. Lloyd-Burchett will be having a meeting with Julie Maxfield, the chair of the committee that oversees special housing next week to discuss the process. If a student has questions or suggestion, they are welcome to contact him before the meeting.

The other main topic of discussion was the surprise discovery of unreinforced masonry (URM). On November 5th, Towny Angell, director of facilities, informed the Reed community that URM had been found in the south wing of the library, the west wall of the Sports Center, a wall of the Physical Plant, and the facilities warehouse. Bruce Smith assured students that URM does not present a safety risk unless there is an earthquake. Facilities Services is still evaluating potential next steps, but they will likely involve a multi-year project including renovations. Senate has been in contact with Facilities Services to minimize the impact of potential renovations on students.

Senator Andrea Deniz Herrera Güris also updated the group on the Legislation Committee, which is currently reviewing the Dissent Policy. Senator Maeve Kolk reported that Appointments Committee is working to digitize release of information documents from applicants. Senator Keegan Samaniego is continuing their work to create a standing committee on student health.

Senator Pax Lloyd-Burchett also discussed the recent revisions that have been made to the Quest bylaws. People will now run individually for five elected general editor positions, with a specialized layout editor then selected afterwards by the Quest Editorial Board (see front page editorial from the Quest Editorial Board for more on this). Finally, Vice President Natasha Baas-Thomas updated the group on the ad hoc committee on Senate’s appeal of Reed’s connection to Wells Fargo. The committee will be hosting a round-table discussion, open to the entire Reed community, to receive feedback and ask questions. It will be held on Thursday, November 15 from 5:30–7:00 p.m. in Vollum Lounge.

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