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Housing Takes a Swipe at Commuting Students

beauty 'n the beat

Be our guest…because you have no choice.

Bwog’s Brennon Mendez demystifies one of Housings many mystifying policies. No more swipe access for commuter students.

Some students make the rational decision to live off campus so they don’t have to deal with residence hall nuisances. Well, Housing has made the irrational decision to revoke dorm swipe access to commuters, who now have to be signed in by their hosts. The Housing Office has remained rather mum on the subject and hasn’t made any public statement regarding the policy change or the motivations behind it.

The Guide to Living states that “any student who does not have a current assignment in Columbia undergraduate housing is considered a guest.” Consequently, commuter students’ affiliation with Columbia has no bearing on their dorm access and students living in nearby non-Columbia owned buildings, such as Beta and the Bayit, are also subject to the same policy.

Some speculate that Housing’s move is an attempt to prevent students who are not paying for campus housing from using the dorm facilities, such as treadmills, printers, and lactation rooms. But the mandatory Student Life fee includes treadmill access in Dodge, and a student’s printing location is completely irrelevant to their printing quotas. In addition, dorm lounges are often used for club meetings, study groups, and other social gatherings. Shouldn’t we all have equal access to enjoy Stressbuster’s massages?

Kristina Makarian, a commuting student, finds the policy “absolutely absurd”, stating that commuters “already miss out on most social events because our commutes are long and require us to leave campus early”. Makarian saw this issue as yet another instance in which the administration’s alleged goals don’t line up with current policy: “For a school that organizes so many events for commuters, banning us from the dorms seems very unfair and hypocritical.”

But what rhymes with hypocrisy? Columbia bureaucracy!

Anthropomorphism via Wikimedia Commons

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  • really, bwog? says:

    @really, bwog? hypocrisy? really?

  • current commuter says:

    @current commuter starting from this semester, commuters are no longer able to fill out a form and have access to dorms without the hassle of being signed in.

  • BSGS says:

    @BSGS Uh, Hello.. GS housing problems? The downward direction and college/SEAS-centeredness of this site is getting old this year.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Uh, this is a site primarily for CC/SEAS students. GS students are not guaranteed on campus housing. I agree this is a problem. You need to contact your school and admissions and housing officers and complain.

      1. BSGS says:

        @BSGS @Anonymous:

        >”Housing officer”

        But, not Barnard either?

        just lol

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Story coverage aside, I thought this was a site primarily for undergrads (in theory), of which GS is a part (much to Columbia’s dismay). Bwog staff is welcome to correct me.

      3. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous No GS housing is considered “on campus” – it’s all through UAH.

    2. GS15 says:

      @GS15 I have no data to actually support this position, but I can only imagine most of BWOG’s staff are CC/SEAS, so it makes sense to me. Get some more GSers on BWOG and maybe we’ll see some changes in the reporting – after all, it’s a campus publication not the NYT.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous This sounds like a good rule. Why should people who don’t live on campus and do not have housing contracts, want or need to have access to housing? Why should you have access to something you are not paying for? They can always be signed in.

    1. GS says:

      @GS What we pay for a pretty arbitrary boundary. Surely you don’t mean that people are getting free rooms. So are you referring to special interest lounges? Student club meetings? Blue bins? CPS, exercise rooms, unstructured common areas, special events? These ought to be seamless for every Columbian to access. We pay for student life, which takes place in “the dorms” in general, unless you advocate restricting all students to their own dorms, and even their own floors.

      I think that would be remarkably destructive. A major part of Columbia’s appeal is our networking opportunities, which take place primarily through open and easy dorm access. I am certain that the reason GS is underreppresented in student life, for example, is due to this discriminatory policy, which commuting CC/SEAS students will soon realize for themselves.

      Insurance issues have nothing to do with the problem; “liability” is the term that large bureaucracies use to shut up discussion. Columbia already has a disturbingly intimate relationship with GS/BC student bank accounts which I’m sure they’d lean on if we damaged things in campus buildings, academic or housing.

      Anyway, the sign-in system is broken. It’s slow, clubs/peers would rather not bother, guards can be quite hostile, it doesn’t work for parties, etc. It takes effort to navigate and it’s offensive always have to do so.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The reason is that Columbia students living on campus pay for insurance as part of their housing fee. Those living off campus (and this is the same reason for the Barnard/GS policy) do not pay into that insurance fee. When you sign someone into a residence hall, that person becomes liable under your insurance. That’s why you’re supposed to be with a guest at all times — if they damage something, it’s on you, but your insurance will help cover it. But having people roaming around the building who might cause trouble that have not paid into the insurance creates a ~*~*~major problem*~*~*~.

  • Alum says:

    @Alum Translations:

    “Demystifies” = “Rants about without investigating.”

    “Irrational decision” = “The reasons are not obvious to me and I haven’t bothered to ask what they were, so there must not have been any.”

    “The Housing Office has remained rather mum on the subject and hasn’t made any public statement” = “I could have asked for an explanation, but I didn’t bother.”

    “A commuting student finds the policy ‘absolutely absurd’” = “Even though I didn’t interview any of the people I’m haranguing in my article, I was able to get a quote from someone else who shares my opinion.”

    “Hypocrisy” = “Contrary to the way I want things to be, regardless of whether it contradicts anything Housing has said or done.”

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Harvard had a huge problem last year of non students “living” in the houses and dealing drugs.

  • Commuting Bitch says:

    @Commuting Bitch I am commuting this semester, and this policy is so fucked up. Commuting is exhausting, especially considering I’m schlepping all the way over from NJ. I would like to have the ability to go to a friends dorm and just crash for a bit sometimes. Having the have a person to sign me in everytime makes that impossible. FUCK THIS. C’mon Columbia. I gave your damn housing system my money for 3 years. Gimme a break.

    1. CC '13 says:

      @CC '13 Commuters still had to apply for access and approval wasn’t guaranteed. What annoys the majority of people who are undergrad commuters is that they live within two blocks of campus. If you’re going to make the case that CC/SEAS commuters shouldn’t be allowed to swipe into residence halls for insurance reasons, then people should only be allowed to swipe into dorms that they live in. That’s the safest bet, but we don’t do that because it would close of the community. Why should commuters from the same school who live a block away be treated differently? Based on the sheer number of “legal” swipers entering into dorms versus commuters, the majority of problems must be caused by residents anyway. Pissing on people’s laundry, selling drugs, punching RA’s, etc. comes as a result of stupid kids doing stupid things because they’re at a stupid age at a school that doesn’t know how to manage student life. And because college.

      Kids also have class in these fucking buildings too. Sigh.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous The number one reason why this is being done is for security. No apartment building anywhere allows unlimited access to non residents. The second reson why it is being done (the same as Barnard) is that people were crashing on couches, common areas, sharing rooms with other suitemates, sleeping on floors, and students complained. Perhaps a fix would be a non resident access to lounges, class rooms, club rooms, computer rooms, etc.

        1. CC '13 says:

          @CC '13 @Anonymous: @Anonymous:

          Wow! You’re so astute! Security? I hadn’t thought of that, nor did I address it in my original post!

          Nobody is asking for unlimited access of all people, you dimwit. Given that Columbia already has an atypically high level of front desk security, it actually makes more sense to allow Columbia students who are going to get in anyway to swipe in because you can track them. I’m sure the half-hearted scribble that most hosts do to sign in their guests could also work to find someone, but if you’re a baby who needs to be protected from students who need to use the computer lab or have a study session with their peers I would think that the electronic system is preferable. Or maybe they have a core class in a building which, wait for it, is meant to bring members of the community together.

          If you think that commuters, who actually have places to live, are the ones filling up spaces en masse, you’re underestimating how many non-affiliated students, drug dealers, and even family members get signed in for several days at a time.

          1. Alum says:

            @Alum A CU student ID would let a lot more people in than you might realize. There aren’t many commuting undergrads in the College or SEAS, but thousands of grad students, postdocs, continuing education students, etc. commute. Besides, intruders would be more likely to get past security if so many people were authorized to get in.

            I’m not saying the policy is a good one, but it’s not as arbitrary or unreasonable as this post claims. And I’ll bet many other universities have similar rules.

    2. Alum says:

      @Alum Needing a resident to sign you in doesn’t make access “impossible”, just inconvenient.

      1. CC '13 says:

        @CC '13 @Alum:

        I was talking about swipe access for CC/SEAS undergrads, which was the original policy. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

  • Daniel Freeman says:

    @Daniel Freeman I was in CC from 1952-56 (failed to get the BA however until years later) and dommuted fro 3 years from the way northeast Bronx. In my 4th yr I lived in cheap sleazy SRO’s (sort of poor people residence “hotel”) with a “community kitchen” on each floor, until I was able to get in with two buddies in a an apartment building at 113th and B’way. For much of the 4 years (I had a job in Butler so I was in the W.113th place a 5th yr) I hung out on campus abetween and after classes with buddies (mostly fellow commuters) in the dorm lunges of Hartley, Livingston (may have a different name now) and John Jay as well as the “Lions Den” in the John Jay basement. There was no “sign-in” policty–you just waled into the lounges and used the furniture for what we called “bull sessions”–which meant I missed a lot of those classes deemd “boring” and then the required Phys Ed. But I fully explored the universe of ideas and philosophy in these “bull sessions”. (Most of us smoked as well, all over and in classes along with some of the instructors; there were no “girls”, only Columbia “men” among undrgraduates in those days, and you could drink at 18

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous what.

  • commuter says:

    @commuter Not that mad b/c sign-in policy is truly arbitrary. I really wish we had quiet, work-free zones to nap or meditate.

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