NEWS

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May 20, 2016

New Storage Restrictions Prompt Complaints

College Housing and Residential Services recently announced changes to its storage guidelines for residents in housing, effective this summer quarter. The new changes include a limit of four boxes, no larger than 13x13x17 inches, as well as a ban on mini-fridges, suitcases, plastic bins, and bikes in trunk rooms.

As stated on the College Housing and Residential Services website, students’ belongings must now be stored in their future assigned residence hall, rather than their current hall. The guidelines are standard across residence halls.

“It is great to have a trunk room program. Many of our peer institutions do not have a free storage program,” the Office of Housing and Residential Services said in a statement.

Students were previously allowed to store five boxes instead of four. According to the statement from Housing and Residential Services, the change will allow more students to use the storage rooms. Boxes larger than 13x13x17 inches caused “a dangerous work environment for staff and reduced the availability of space for all students,” Housing’s statement said. Storage of mini-fridges, when not properly cleaned out, posed a significant pest control issue, and Housing decided to standardize practice and prohibit them. Bike storage will still be available outside of trunk rooms.

“Residents were previously permitted to store up to five boxes. The program has experienced increased demand in recent years and in an effort to accommodate as many students as possible, the maximum number of boxes has been reduced to four, and a size limitation has been clarified,” University spokesperson Marielle Sainvilus told The Maroon in an additional statement.

“The Trunk Room program is periodically evaluated to ensure we are providing an opportunity to store items to as many students as possible,” she added.

College Housing plans to communicate the new guidelines via its website, through house meetings, on residence hall media boards, and the Move Out Memo. For those moving to Campus North, the information was provided through their representative on the Special College Housing Advisory Committee (SCHAC), a committee of members from the decommissioned houses who provide input on the transition to Campus North Residence Hall.

SCHAC was slated to have a meeting on May 17 to discuss the changes but College Housing rescheduled the meeting to June 1.

“We’re fed up,” said Casey Mulroy, SCHAC representative and resident of Midway House, in an e-mail to The Maroon. “We were told since the fall that storage would be similar to years past. We specifically asked about bikes and were told that there would be storage in North…. This very quiet ‘announcement’ came as a surprise to all of us.”

According to Mulroy, SCHAC was told that a closing memo detailing storage policy would be distributed before the end of April, but they have not yet received any official word from College Housing regarding the new procedures.

College Housing and Residential Services recommends on its website both Hyde Park Self Storage/U-Haul Storage at 5155 South Cottage Grove Avenue and College Boxes. Students have expressed frustration that they will now have to pay for off-campus storage.

Stephanie Diaz, the Co-Coordinator of the Socioeconomic Diversity Alliance, found the news of the changes troubling. “The new housing policy is an unexpected cost for students,” said Diaz in an email to The Maroon, “When the University expects people to bear an additional cost with little warning, it reinforces how this institution is not built for the economically diverse population [it] now boasts about.”

After the announcement, third-year William Thomas, along with a group of students from Phoenix House, began circulating a letter to College Housing expressing concerns about the new storage policy, and urging a reconsideration of the change.

“I think this reflects a longstanding disregard for student input, lack of transparency, and insensitivity to the needs of low-income students at this university. The collective voice of students is powerful, though, so I believe that we can change policies if we’re organized and work together,” Thomas said in an email to The Maroon.

Thomas met with Jennifer Luttig-Komrosky, the Executive Director of Housing, on Thursday afternoon and delivered the letter, which had received 521 student signatures.

According to the Office of College Housing and Resident Services, feedback on the new changes can be provided to College Housing and Residential Services at collegehousing@uchicago.edu. In addition, housing staff is willing to meet with or discuss the changes with residents.

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