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Graduate Student Senate votes no confidence in Kim, Hull

Maria Uminski/Collegian

Angered by the recent changes to Lincoln Apartments, the Graduate Student Senate voted 11-2 for no confidence in Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Campus Life Jean Kim and Executive Director of Residential Life Eddie Hull for violating the Wellman Document.

In an open letter to Kim and Hull, they wrote, “These decisions are made without student input and therefore in direct violation of the Wellman Document that stipulates the rights and responsibilities of students to be involved in activities that affect student life.”

Kim and Hull could not be reached for comment.

The letter outlined the changes that students hope to discuss with the University, such as removing graduate students from Cashin Hall, located in Sylvan residential area, and changes to Lincoln Apartments.

Earlier this semester, Residential Life opted to remove family housing from Lincoln Apartments to house more graduate students and possible undergraduate seniors. According to Director of Student Service Dawn Bond these changes were made to help alleviate the housing shortage on campus.

These changes included a restructuring of pricing for Lincoln Apartments in order to better align with that of undergraduate dorms, according to Bond. Residents will now be charged per person instead a flat fee for the space.

One-bedroom apartments will increase from $688 a month to $725 a month, according to the letter. Two-bedroom apartments will increase from $712 to $763.

While the third type of housing, studio apartments, were not mentioned in the letter, they will increase from $533 to approximately $800 a month, according to Bond. The studio apartments are currently undergoing renovations that are scheduled to be completed for spring 2013.

The GSS alleges that this is a 110 to 120 percent price increase of Lincoln’s one and two-bedroom spaces, and 30 percent more for studios.

University spokesman Ed Blaguszewski was not aware of the specific detail of this case, but said that votes of no confidences aren’t unprecedented.

“As a practical matter, I don’t think it means anything,” he said. “The senior administrators serve at the pleasure of the chancellor.”

Historically, when votes of no confidence occur, the University “redoubles” its efforts to collaborate with students, according to Blaguszewski.

“The administration listens to, hears and values the opinions of students groups,” he said. “This is all part of the process.”

On April 4, the GSS wrote a formal recommendation to Kim and Chancellor Robert Holub asking to be included in the decision-making process.  They demanded a response by Friday, April 13.

Kim responded to the letter on April 11. According to the GSS’s letter, she refused “to form a committee including students to review the current changes,” and “continues to violate the Wellman Document.”

“It’s not about adjusting the rent … we want to be a part of that conversation” said GSS President Hongmei Sun.

“They refused to form a committee including students,” she said.

In a letter to the GSS yesterday morning before the vote, Holub said that it is within the rights of the administration to make an executive decision about administrative matters, such as housing.

The motion was sent to Chancellor Holub, President Robert Caret and the University’s Board of Trustees.

Mary Reines can be reached at mreines@student.umass.edu. Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.

 

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