Sections spark RLHS, CC tension

In an attempt to diffuse the frustration voiced by Campus Council in a formal complaint filed last week, Residence Life and Housing Services apologized to Campus Council Tuesday for failing to seek the Council's advice.

RLHS also agreed to move the Leadership and Civic Engagement Community-the University's fifth Living/Learning community-to Houses M or N in the rear of Kilgo Quadrangle.

Council representatives were originally upset that they had not been consulted about the establishment of the living group and that the LCEC was given housing facing Main West Quadrangle.

All selective community sections were moved in 2001 so they would not face the main quad.

Campus Council President Jay Ganatra said he accepted the apology from Eddie Hull, executive director of housing services and dean of residence life.

At a general body meeting Feb. 23, Council members voted unanimously to send a letter of complaint to Hull.

The letter criticized RLHS's handling of the LCEC, calling the addition "a breach of trust."

Ganatra said although he had heard vague plans for the LCEC months ago, he only learned that the group had been added from a Feb. 21 article in The Chronicle.

"I don't want to imply that I think they snuck it by us," Ganatra said at the meeting. "But it should have come across our table before we read about it in The Chronicle."

The group's debate at the Feb. 23 meeting, however, suggested that neither RLHS nor Council members were satisfied with their relationship.

Council members complained that the group is seen as "inept"-nothing but a puppet body-and charged that RLHS only brings policies before them when seeking a rubber-stamp approval.

Campus Council Vice President Ben Rubinfeld said Nicole Manley, assistant dean for staff development, advising and assessment for RLHS and adviser to the Council, was upset with the tone of the letter.

"She felt the letter was too forceful, that it wasn't tactful," said Rubinfeld, a junior. He said Manley felt Campus Council's aggressive stance could cause administrative backlash.

"If you guys want a reorganization of Campus Council, this is the fastest way to do it," Manley told representatives at the general body meeting.

Rubinfeld said Campus Council members are not concerned about such repercussions and added that Hull said he considered the Council's advice as important as that of any adviser on the RLHS staff.

Manley and Hull both declined to comment on the situation.

Other comments at the Feb. 23 meeting suggest problems run deeper than the LCEC miscommunication. Council representatives questioned RLHS's commitment to the group as well as its role on campus.

"Personally, I'm fed up... with all the editorials saying Campus Council is just a bunch of puppets," Kilgo Quad representative Collin Walter, a junior, said at the meeting. "Part of that is maybe that I think it's true."

Ganatra downplayed those claims after meeting with Hull Tuesday. He said he thought Walter's comment was inspired more by outside representations of the Council than by internal problems.

"Campus Council members can get upset because we work really hard in this group and then sometimes a staff editorial or a column will attack what we've done," Ganatra said Tuesday.

He added that Campus Council's achievements this year-from unlocking some residential bathrooms to opening dormitories for more hours-indicated a stronger and more efficient body than in the past.

The LCEC represents the second major exception to the moratorium for new housing sections for selective groups. In January, Chi Psi and Delta Tau Delta fraternities were given housing sections.

At that time, top RLHS officials said no new groups would be added until a four-step re-evaluation and redesign of selective living on campus had been completed.

Deb Lo Biondo, assistant dean for residence life on West Campus, wrote in an e-mail that the group was not considered under the same guidelines as greek and selective living groups.

Both Council members and RLHS officials said they did not yet know if living/learning communities would be evaluated under the Selective Community Assessment currently being formulated by Campus Council.


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