by Alondra Alba
During SGA’s meeting Tuesday there was an allotted time to discuss the new Residence Life Housing Plan with Director Jimmy Whited and Associate Director Kody Rother of Residence Life. The new plan consists of “community development functions of the new neighborhood councils” as well as changes to intentional communities. However, most of the discussion, which non-senatorial members were allowed to participate in, was about the Catawba-Chalmers-Global Village controversy.
For those who do not know what is happening: Residence Life is moving the Global Village– the International Students Housing– from Catawba to the second and third floor of Chalmers, which already houses the Multicultural Living Community on the lower floors.
Catawba will now be home to a Sports and Rec Affinity Housing. This housing is not simply for athletes, as this would be a violation of NCAA’s regulations.
“If you’re perfect Sunday during football season is watching nothing but the NFL network, then yeah. These are the type of people that would be interested in living there [at the new affinity housing],” said Rother.
Concerns that rose from this change are numerous. First of all, who decided the change was needed?
According to Director Whited, Pamela Serota Cote, director of International Education, was the one who approached Residence Life with the concern that the Global Village is not filling up the size it was intended for.
“There are 48-51 rooms in Catawba depending on the year,” said Rother. There is not enough American students interested in the Global Village, which, presumably, means that there ends up being more international students in Catawba than American Students. Empty rooms are then given to other American students who did not choose the Global Village and end up being “disruptive,” in Whited’s words, to the Global Village.
In an attempt to provide a reason for the move because of space, Rother made the comparison of the Global Village to Honors. When asked what actions is being made towards Honors, because of lack of interest in living in Honors Housing, he responded that they are being moved out of Tabor and back into only New Hall.
It appears that the problem was a lack of American students in the GV, not international. So why are American students not interested? And what could have Residence Life and Director Serota Cote have done to attract them? Because it seems that if these problems had been solved, then Residence Life would not need to move international students to Chalmers, which is filled with mostly single rooms.
The move to Chalmers would not allow the American-International roommate partnership, part of the GV program, because of lack of space and rooms.
The next question is then, why Chalmers? Yerisbel Jimenez asked this in context. According to Jimenez, “when we had an Omicron Delta Kappa meeting, Jimmy you were there, you said that on your first day on the job someone came up to you and said how dare you have Catawba students… living in such terrible living conditions. I’m a resident of Chalmers… and there is mold everywhere, the ceiling collapses when it rains, and there’s mold down in the basement.”
Director Whited responds to the question, saying that in contexts the accuser “was talking about the awning … it was green when it was [supposed to be] maroon. So what we did, we had housekeeping up there and power washed it.” Other changes included waxing the floors.
In response to the condition of Chalmers, Director Whited says that kitchens were installed into the building. The leak, that Jimenez addressed, has not been found by maintenance. And to the other complaints he says, “maintenance demands [for other residence halls and Chalmers] are still being addressed and are not being pushed aside.”
Addressing other changes that are happening to Catawba, those gathered were told that maintenance will be painting walls. There will be a shortage of furniture, though, because Director Whited says the current furniture “is Pamela’s – International Housing, so it would be moved over to [Chalmers].” There is no budget, according to him, for new furniture for Catawba after this move but, “Bast Center is giving them some workout equipment.” Which, he emphasizes, will be for a workout room, not a gym, as some rumors on Yik Yak would say.
However, the next question asked, because it was not fully answered, again was why Chalmers?
Director Whited and Associative Director Rother, explain that they were not part of the talk for picking Chalmers. “She [Director Serota Cote] loved the layout of the building, the architecture. It was ‘visually interesting’ and that’s what I think she was thinking.” No information about strategically reasoning was given, besides the fact that it looked like a home.
“I know a lot of people had some problems… and were questioning things. Do you know that the only student who came to me, and asked me anything at all was Ben [Cowgill]?” were the ending remarks by Director Whited. However, many students have had meetings with Dean Fetrow and invited Direct Whited, who did not attend nor reschedule the meetings.
Other questions asked at this time were in regards to the new Interfaith Harmony Housing, dubbed Religious Tolerance Housing by Residence Life, that will be part of Crawford (which many are raising concerns about) and the difficult process of off-campus housing.