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Update on Resolution 11, 13 and 15; President Skorton’s Response

11/14/2009

The Student Assembly has much influence over the quality of student life through the allocation of the Student Activity Fee and by having legislative oversight of the Office of Campus Life. When the SA passes “Legislative Action Resolutions” or when the SA alters its Charter in a fundamental way, the President of the University must approve the resolutions.

Copied below are President Skorton’s response to Resolution 11, The Community Clause, Resolution 13, changing the order of the housing lottery, and Resolution 15, Student Representation on the RHD Selection Board. The SA will continue working with the administration to structure these resolutions in a manner which is best for the Cornell Community.

From the President:

R. 11- Voting Rights for Members of the Undergraduate Community “The Community Clause 2.0”–Grants a combined two votes to the undergraduate audience members as a whole on Sense-of-the-Body resolutions (an opinion of the SA regarding a matter of student concern). Passed 15-5-0.

R. 11 amends both the Student Assembly Charter, Article 3.1 Composition and the Bylaws 3.1.d (The Community Clause).  As President, I need not approve changes in the Bylaws but I am required to approve certain changes in the Charter.
Given that the community clause in the Bylaws only refers to sense-of-body resolutions, but the language in the Charter is much broader, I would ask you to reconsider R. 11 to include reference to the sense-of-body resolutions in the Charter to make it clear that is how the Composition of the Assembly is being altered.

R. 13- Housing Lottery Time Slots–Reassigns housing lottery time slots so that sophomores get the first set of time slots, then juniors, then seniors. Passed 19-0-0.
R. 13 proposed changes in the assigned time slots for the housing lottery.  In consultation with Vice President Murphy and her colleagues, I understand that there is a willingness to explore this change, but not for Spring 2010.  Rising juniors and seniors have counted on the current system and given the timing of the off-campus housing market, it seems unfair to make such a change mid-season. I ask you to reconsider R. 13 in light of the fact that it would not be operational until one year from now.

I ask that you work with Campus Life staff to understand better how such a change in priority order will work with our increased enrollment, our need to remain at full capacity and our implementation of continued occupancy lottery in upperclass residences.  While this resolution does address concerns of those students whom we guarantee housing, it may have unintended consequences of empty beds as most juniors and seniors will not want the rooms that remain after the sophomores make their choices.  As you know, we cannot afford to have any empty beds, so if the change in the timing of choices has that result, Campus Life will need to revisit this resolution.  I look forward to receiving a revised R. 13 for consideration in the spring.

R. 15- Increased Student Representation in Residence Hall Director Selections–Places two undergraduate student representatives as voting members on the Screening Committee for Residence Hall Director selections for the Office of Residential Programs. Passed 19-0-0
R.15 calls for increased student representation in residence hall director selections.  We accept this resolution, understanding that the Student Assembly knows that there are often different selection processes for residence hall directors for program houses.  These processes often involve faculty associated with the theme of the house and are specialized committees, not the general Screening Committee for Residence Hall Directors.  We will proceed with the spirit of the resolution and include students on those committees as well, but they may not follow the same formal selection process you outline for the general committee.

Finally, Campus Life will conduct a formal evaluation of the quality of students’ experiences in their residence hall. The timing of that evaluation may not be at year end as decisions about assignments often are made early in the spring semester for the coming year.  Such an evaluation will be used to inform the RHD transfer process, but it cannot be determinative.  That decision must remain in the hands of the leadership of Residential Programs.

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