Last weekend was bad. It’s always been pretty dire, but this was worse.
The newly remodeled East Campus entrance has failed to fix several of the existing problems that prevented EC residents from entering their own residence hall on weekends. Additionally, the buildup of students who need to be signed in makes the entrance impossible to exit for all of those who are trying to leave EC. Much of this problem could be fixed simply by having two sign-in books to reduce lines, and a dual entrance system similar to the one in place last year.
However, this problem barely scratches the surface of residential hall access problems. In the past, Columbia College and School of Engineering and Applied Science students who did not live on campus have been allowed to apply for swipe access. Philosophically, this makes perfect sense: Students who choose to live off-campus should not be treated like strangers every time they want to visit their on-campus friends. But earlier this month, Bwog reported that the University did away with this application, requiring all off-campus CC and SEAS students—even those who are only nominally off-campus, like residents of the independently owned Beta and The Bayit houses—to be signed into dorms. This change was made over the summer without any announcement.
To add insult to injury, according to an email obtained by The Lion, the director of the office of residential programs, Anna Schmidt-MacKenzie, told a Beta student frustrated with his second-class citizen status that she would “prefer if students could only swipe into their residence hall.” We fail to see how we could foster community if we were confined to our own rooms.
One legitimate argument is that students should not have access to resources for which they did not pay. While this is a compelling argument, a great deal of what we pay for when we dole out $60,000 is the undergraduate community. Learning takes place in residence halls, in libraries, on Low Steps, and in every way imaginable beyond classroom experiences—all accessible because we pay our tuition.
We are a community, and because of that, we must seriously examine the current system of swipe access to our residence halls. This topic has graced the pages of Spectator and appeared in all forms of disgruntled student dialogue over the years, most prominently over the question of why Barnard students do not have swipe access to Columbia residence halls and vice versa.
As an editorial board, we are of differing opinions about the size and form of the changes that need to be made. But we do agree unequivocally that access needs to be expanded to. We emphatically ask both Columbia and Barnard administrators re-evaluate the current residential access policies for all four undergraduate schools.
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