On Wednesday night, the VSG Senate will debate a bill urging the Office of Housing and Residential Education to re-designate Morgan and Lewis two-bedroom apartments currently being used as quads to triplets. While the increase in room capacity from triplets to quads was originally meant to be a temporary response to the demolition of Vanderbilt and Barnard Halls, the Housing Office will not change the current living conditions of these Morgan and Lewis Suites for the 2018-19 school year. Instead, it plans on reducing off-campus housing by 340 students.
“Students are looking for ways to minimize the current barriers in housing,” Speaker of the Senate Molly Gupta said. “I think that’s the entire goal of this bill.”
The writers of the bill support the construction of Vanderbilt’s FutureVU project, which will increase the number of Living and Learning Communities in the West End area. However, these halls will not be completed until 2023, so a generation of students will pass through Vanderbilt before this housing is available. For students currently on campus, the writers of the bill hope to alleviate the cramped living conditions resulting from the conversion of two-bedroom Morgan and Lewis rooms from triplets to quads.
“It seems that administration has forgotten that before 2023, there is still a whole generation of students that will be cycled through Vanderbilt,” College of Arts & Sciences Senator and the bill’s author Sean Swinford said. “And it’s not fair to those students, who are paying the same amount of money, to not have access to those types of housing.”
This bill also recommends that alternative on-campus options or more off-campus spaces be opened to address the loss of 120 spots that will result from the Morgan and Lewis redesignation. The writers of the bill see this as a compromise between students and administration.
“By reducing these spots by 120, and making sure that people aren’t being packed into Morgan and Lewis, it could be a win-win for everyone,” Swinford said. “Housing will reduce off-campus spots, but they’re not going to sacrifice the living conditions on campus, in the meantime.”
According to Gupta, this bill will not be applicable to 2018-19 housing, as the housing lottery is already taking place. At the earliest, the bill could be applicable in the fall of 2019.
Gupta also sees this bill as a reasonable goal for VSG to accomplish.
“VSG has a very close relationship with both Dean of Students and Housing,” Gupta said. “I think it is feasible to address inequities in student housing. I think that the administration usually wants to do things that are best for students, it’s usually just a barrier between them understanding what is a priority for students and what is possible.”
During the open floor of the Senate meeting, any student can raise concerns about any issue, including housing. In addition, a representative from Vanderbilt Campus Dining will be present to talk about ongoing changes.