Satellite dorm activists hosted town hall meeting yesterday

No administrators attended the meeting.

By Anne Nazzaro

Save our Satellites (SOS), the organization of students protesting the University’s decision to close satellite dorms and move their houses into Campus North Residence Hall, held a town hall meeting in Harper Memorial Library yesterday in order to raise awareness for their cause and discuss further campaign strategies.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the meeting was originally intended to be an administration-moderated student discussion, but no administrators were in attendance.

Administrators were invited to moderate the meeting, but David Clark, one of the College Housing representatives who met with each house after the original announcement, e-mailed Mike Dewar, one of the Maclean representatives on the SOS Council, to state that administrators would not be attending. “Essentially they say that the house meetings were sufficient…and therefore, quote, ‘on behalf of the campus leadership who were invited to the May 4 meeting, we will be unable to attend,’” Dewar said at the meeting, quoting from Clark’s e-mail.

During the meeting, SOS released an online “pledge of non-donation.” The pledge states SOS’s grievances with the administration and its housing decisions, and promises that those who sign will not donate any money to the University “until and unless the administration reconsiders its rash decision, and reaches a compromise with the student body agreeing with all parties.”

According to the Housing website, one of Housing’s goals in moving the nine houses into Campus North is housing more students closer to campus. In keeping with that goal, Campus North is similar to Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons, which College Housing has maintained in meetings and discussions has higher retention rates than the other dorms, according to Aliyah Bixby-Driesen, another Maclean representative on SOS Council.

At the meeting, students wondered if it would be possible to access information about those retention rates, but according to Austin Lee, an Inter-House Council representative, IHC has requested this information before and College Housing has declined to release it.

Otherwise, students discussed the goals of SOS and further strategies for gaining attention and support for their cause. Suggested ideas included making T-shirts, contacting the press, and holding tours of the dorms that are set to close.

When one student suggested reaching out to prospective students, Dewar said that while he would want to inform prospective students about what was happening, he wouldn’t discourage them from coming to the school. “I still do have quite a bit of affection for this University, separate from the administration,” he said. “I still do love this university and being here and being a student here, so I wouldn’t recommend not coming, because I would feel like I was cheating them.”

SOS plans to release a petition to Student Government requesting support for their cause.