Student Senate sent out a resolution to administration and university leaders on Oct. 30 in response to their emails regarding the elimination of on-campus housing for upperclassmen next year. The resolution called for a better response with more information from the President’s office.
“Be it Resolved, that The Student Senate is requiring a unified response from Lehigh’s President’s Office separate from the ‘message with more complete information on residential options’ to be sent to Student Senate and the student body by 2 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 2) containing the information requested in the following clauses,” the resolution said.
The resolution was created after third- and fourth-year students expressed concerns about where they will live next year.
“I’m really proud of what Student Senate came up with over the last 24 hours to send to the administration,” said Student Senate President Zach Vinik, ’20. “This resolution hopefully will really show the university leadership how much students care about this housing crisis.”
The resolution said the email sent out “blindsided the Lehigh and Bethlehem community.” It also expressed concerns for lower income and international students, pricing of off-campus residences and overcapacity of Greek houses, among other issues.
After receiving the email on Oct. 29, Student Senate sent out a survey to students at 7 p.m. that day asking for feedback from the student body. The survey was primarily shared through Group Me messaging. Senate sent a similar survey to parents about 30 minutes after the student survey was released. Senate received almost 300 student responses and roughly 80 responses from parents.
Vinik said Senate wanted to send out a survey so people’s voices were heard in their meeting. He said responses consisted of long paragraphs of frustration, surprise and anger.
“And I think that’s part of the reason we had to pass this resolution today and had to work on it fast,” Vinik said.
Senate is looking for the President’s Office to release specific details about the situation, such as the number of beds gained for first years and sophomores and the number of off-campus housing options, as well as the long-term plan for upperclassman after the next academic year.
The resolution also requested the administration think about other options instead of removing all on-campus housing temporarily for upperclassmen. This includes delaying phase II of Bridge West or delaying the increase of incoming students.
In its Oct. 30 meeting, Senate members decided to discuss further action at its next meeting if the university does not respond. Ideas included walk-outs from classes, protests and petitions.
Evan Chansky, ’20, the vice president of Student Senate, read all the student and parents responses to prepare for the meeting and to help create the resolution.
“I stayed up until about 2 a.m. last night reading responses,” Chansky said. “It was pretty easy to see through all of those responses — most of them sentences, paragraphs — students had a lot to say about this. I think upset, shocked, surprised, but above all stressed.”
Chansky said although the past 24 hours have been stressful, he is impressed by all of the Senate members who stayed overtime to get the resolution agreed on and openly voiced their opinions on what the resolution should say.
Student Senate members agreed that the resolution needed to be created following the email rising juniors and seniors received about the elimination of housing.
“This resolution encompasses the voice of the entire student body,” Chansky said.
Chansky said the members also defined a clear and actionable path to address issues and concerns from students and others.
“I’m hopeful that we can work with the university to address these issues,” Chansky said. “I am anxiously waiting for their response.”