Shoreland panel discussion cites financial concerns

By Art Kimball-Stanley

Administrators met Thursday to field questions from a sparse crowd of students about the fate of the Shoreland yesterday at a lecture entitled “The Shoreland’s Role in the Future of the College Housing System.” With very few of the 136 seats filled, the student interest that once bolstered hope in the future of the Shoreland has begun to look bleak.

Problems with the Shoreland’s façade alone will cost $19 million in repairs, and the University will have to spend an additional $26 million in internal renovations to the building. The University believes that such a substantial amount of money to keep the building in use is not justified, when a new dorm can be built for only slightly more. In addition, proponents of a new dorm add, a residence hall will be closer to campus and will cost less in maintenance.

The discussion, held in Hutchinson Commons, was led by Katie Callow-Wright, director of undergraduate housing and associate dean of students in the University, Cheryl Gutman, deputy dean of students in the University for housing and dining and assistant dean of the College, Steve Klass, vice president and dean of students in the University, and Barry O’Quinn, from facilities services.

Rachel Goldman, a third-year in the College and president of the inter-house council, was the moderator. All four members of the administration sat behind a long table and fielded questions from students and alumni.

While stressing that a final decision has not been made, Klass made it clear, though in a regretful tone, that the Shoreland’s future as a residence hall does not look favorable.

“We had to ask ourselves some tough questions, we had to do some heavy analysis,” Klass said. “Holding a position does not mean we have already made up our mind. It will cost us more to keep the Shoreland open over time . Is that equitable? When everyone is paying the same rent, is that equitable?”

Most of the students in attendance argued that the history of the Shoreland, as well as the sentiments of those who are currently living there, are enough reason to keep it in use. However, they do not believe that their efforts have much pull in preserving the Shoreland as an undergraduate residence hall.

Quinn Carey, a second-year in the College and the coordinator of the Save the Shoreland Organization, said that many students have become disillusioned with the administration’s efforts to include students in the decision-making process, citing the town hall meeting last Wednesday.

“They think the issue has been decided and that they have no say,” Carey said.

Witold Wdziekonski, a second-year in the College who lives in the Shoreland, is disillusioned with the administration’s handling of the Shoreland situation. “I think that the statistics that they have chosen to present to us are extremely biased and unreliable,” Wdziekonski said.

Gutman said that while the University was asking students contribute their input, it reserves the right to make the ultimate decision.

Another gripe that students expressed was the relative suddenness with which the University made the Shoreland’s status known. Kristen Carmean, a second-year in the College and a Shoreland resident, wished the University had told her about their plans sooner.

Klass does not believe that students were brought in late on the process. According to Klass, students were told about the situation as soon as all the information was available.

Even alumni were informed about the University’s possible plans: 2,500 letters were sent out earlier in the year informing alumni and friends of the University of the facts. Klass only received about 30 letters in reply, and the majority of these were supportive of the University’s efforts.

The tone of the meeting could best be described as detached. Students seemed unwilling to understand the economic realities surrounding the issue, while some administrators seemed almost cold in regards to the emotional attachment that some students have to the grand old hotel.

Gutman suggested that, in the future, students might be invited to be Summer Fellows in the dean’s office so that they might work with administrators in solving the University’s problems, which would allow students to understand the decision-making process of the University more fully.