Sophomore Max Gustashaw and freshman Christina Baur, co-presidents of the newly formed South Campus Resident Alliance, sent the letter to Department of University Housing Director Christopher Payne, Chancellor James Moeser, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Sue Kitchen, Student Body President Brad Matthews and Student Body President-elect Justin Young on March 6.
Gustashaw and Baur formed the resident alliance last month to convey concerns of South Campus residents to administrators, although the group is not officially recognized as a student organization.
"The SCRA basically consists of all South Campus residents, whether they know it or not," Gustashaw said. "It is a collective group in which students have a chance to voice their opinions."
The letter lists a number of grievances, which range from noisy weekend construction work to muddy pathways to lengthened campus commutes, that the SCRA claims South Campus residents have had to endure because of construction.
"When I look outside my window, I get depressed every day when I see the nastiness of our living conditions," said Baur, who lives in Ehringhaus Residence Hall. "We are already living in the grossest dorms on campus, and now we have all the extra construction on top of it."
Gustashaw and Baur said they believe that University officials do not fully understand South Campus residents' concerns.
"I don't think there is dialogue between students and administrators," Gustashaw said. "We want to invite the administrators down to South Campus to see what we do on a daily basis -- to see the whole filth of our living situation."
In exchange for their discomfort, Gustashaw and Baur are asking the housing department to give South Campus residents first priority in the recontracting process for next semester and are requesting a partial refund of 2000-2001 housing costs.
"This is a ridiculous situation," Gustashaw said. "For what I paid to live here, I could have paid a small amount more to stay in an apartment with better living conditions."
Payne said it is not feasible for the housing department to make a change in the reassignment process at this point because recontracting is slated to begin when students return from Spring Break.
As far as giving students financial compensation, Payne said, "If we were to give credit back, we wouldn't be able to do upgrades for new communities and on existing facilities, because the money for the upgrades comes from student rent."
Matthews said he felt the authors brought forth valid concerns in their letter.
"I lived on South Campus for two years, so I am well aware of the difficulties that come with living in that area," he said.
Payne said he did not want to minimize any of the issues that were addressed in the letter but said residents need to be aware that South Campus is not the only area that has been affected by construction.
"It is important to realize that construction is not isolated to South Campus communities," he said. "Later on in the spring, there is going to be a North Campus steamline project and residents of those communities will be inconvenienced by that work."
Payne also said he has responded to both authors of the letter and that he is looking forward to scheduling a meeting with them. "I think it would also be a good opportunity to share things that we have already responded to and other things that we have plans for," he said.
But Baur said she wishes all the construction problems would end soon.
"This is where we are supposed to live and be happy and enjoy our Carolina experience," she said. "I haven't had that at all since the construction has been going on."
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