Rez rights rewritten

By Chris Beauchamp

At least 140 University of Calgary students living in residence this year won’t be back in 2006/07, as part of a new plan to restructure residence enrollment.

The new residence enrollment model will see guaranteed space for all Canadian first-year students who apply by the April 30, 2006 deadline, with priority going next to international students, followed by Canadian transfer students. Spaces for returning undergraduate students have been reduced from 529 to 389–meaning 140 second, third and fourth year students won’t have a rez bed next fall.

“We need to give as many students as possible a chance to get involved with the residence experience,” said Residence Services Director Joel Lynn. “It’s not that we’re cutting beds, it’s providing an opportunity for transfer students looking for the same community experience.”

Lynn stressed the changes are in line with the U of C’s Academic Plan and overall recruitment strategy to create 7,000 new student spaces by 2010. Plans also include a new residence building by 2008 with a focus on mixing international and domestic students.

“We are realigning our numbers to best ensure the residence population reflects those goals,” said Lynn. “It’s an institutional objective.”

However, the new strategy has been accused of being planned without input from rez students.

“I’m disappointed to hear about it in the way I did,” said Residence Students’ Association President Emily Wyatt. “I think students would be disappointed to know their student association wasn’t consulted before hand.”

Lynn said there will be consultations with students in the next few weeks, but Wyatt feels there could have been more dialogue sooner.

“I feel we need to be treated like the paying tenants we are,” she said, noting continuing students may be deterred from applying for rez next year, given the decreased likelihood of acceptance. “They never ran this through RSA.”

The number of first year students has been projected at 630 again next year, though Lynn said unused capacity in Kananaskis Hall and Rundle Hall will allow up to 800 students to live in the buildings should demand be high enough. Lynn also stressed there will be more space for returning and local students if demand from transfer and international students doesn’t fill all the beds.

“We’re not going to leave these beds empty,” he said. “There will still be a waiting list.”

Students’ Union Vice-President Academic Paige Forsyth feels the new plan may weaken school participation from rez kids. She said students with only one year of rez experience would be less likely to stay active in the university community.

“I think the students in rez are the ones who are really involved,” said Forsyth. “If students are aware they will have to move out in their second year, it will just strip that continuity from year to year. We’re already a commuter school and it’s just going to enhance the problems we have as a commuter school.”

Lynn disagrees.

“We’re going to build a stronger campus community,” he said. “I think we’ll create a stronger citizenship pool by giving more students an opportunity to try rez.”

Graduate student rez spaces will increase from 188 to 217. The 250 units in Varsity Court for married students and student families will remain unchanged. Lynn said the 81 positions for residence student leaders will remain the same.

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