Students, Faculty, and Administrators Issue Collaborative Report on College’s Housing Issues

Posted May 9th, 2013 at 1:12 pm.

While many questions remain regarding some of Bryn Mawr’s most pressing student-housing issues, including future plans for dedicated space for traditionally under-represented minority students, the Student Housing Options Committee, which was made up of students, staff, and faculty, has once again shown the community’s dedication to finding solutions collaboratively.

The committee was formed by President Jane McAuliffe in November to look at several pressing campus housing issues, and in response to student concerns that their voices weren’t being heard in planning the future of Perry House. A former private home with room for seven that has served as the Black Student Cultural Center since the 1970s and in more recent years as a living space for members of Sisterhood, BACaSO, and Mujeres, Perry was taken offline this year due to structural concerns and issues with the home’s heating, electrical, and other systems.

Earlier this month, the committee issued a final report and shared its recommendations with the Bryn Mawr community. In the report, the committee urges Bryn Mawr’s Board of Trustees  to consider a “New Perry” that would maintain a dedicated gathering and dining space for the groups that had space in the home and which may also help solve some of the College’s other housing issues.

“Working on the Perry House committee with faculty, staff and students who are invested in the cause has given me a wider perspective on the politics that go into creating a successful solution,” says committee member Esteniolla Maitre ’15. “While the importance of Black and Latina heritage on campus has been the core of our work, I enjoyed thinking with the committee, and the entire community, on  a housing solution that is inclusive of everyone on campus and reflective of Bryn Mawr’s mission. This committee is the result of what student voice can do and a reason for Bryn Mawr College to continue making the experience of marginalized groups a priority. I am very optimistic about the future of Perry House and, above all, the future of diversity at Bryn Mawr College.”

A Board of Trustees subcommittee that has been formed to decide the College’s housing plans will consult with many of the students from the Student Housing Options Committee before any plans are finalized.

In addition to Perry House, the Student Housing Options Committee looked at—and the Board of Trustees subcommittee will consider—the future of Batten House, which currently houses 13 students and needs about $800,000 in repairs, and Haffner Hall, which has to undergo either a major renovation due to asbestos that was found on structural beams or which may be demolished.

“At this point we’re looking at three options,” says Bryn Mawr Chief Administrative Officer Jerry Berenson. “We may be able to renovate Haffner and add as many as 18 rooms; we could totally demolish Haffner and build a new dorm with nearly 50 more rooms; or we could renovate Haffner as presently configured and build a new small dorm somewhere else on campus.”

Berenson, who was part of the Student Housing Committee and who will also work with the Board this summer, says he expects a decision to be reached by the end of June.

For more details about the options being considered, see this email from Berenson.

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