COUNCIL 1999-2000 Year-End Committee Reports

Quality of Student Life

(Formerly Committee on Student Affairs)

September 22, 2000

Discussed at Council on April 26, 2000

The University Council Committee on Quality of Student Life (CQSL) met nine times during the academic year 1999-2000. It focused on five of the eight charges it was given by University Council: (1) review ways of measuring the success of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse (WGAA) policy recommendations, (2) evaluate the progress of the College House System, (3) assess the quality of life of students who live off-campus, (4) assess the adequacy of space available for graduate student activities, and (5) review the orientation of transfer students.

Alcohol Abuse

The committee met several times with Ms. Stephanie Ives, Alcohol Policy Coordinator for the University, to learn about the steps being taken to implement the WGAA policies, and to assist in the development of a survey instrument to measure student drug and alcohol usage on campus. The committee recommended reducing the length and complexity of the instrument, as well as changing the wording of some of the items. These suggestions were incorporated into a questionnaire that was well received by students and that provided a baseline of drug and alcohol usage rates at Penn. The committee concluded that surveying students anonymously was probably the best way to measure the effectiveness of social marketing and other strategies for reducing drug and alcohol abuse.

College House System

The committee concluded that the College House System is gaining wide acceptance among students, faculty and administrators, and that it has had a clear positive impact on the quality of student life at Penn. The increased acceptance of the College House System appears to be leading to a greater demand for on-campus housing for students in the upper years. Moreover, the social, cultural, academic, communication and advising functions of the house system are widely seen as successful.

Off-Campus Students

The committee devoted a major portion of its time to learning about the quality of life for students living off-campus. The availability of safe, affordable and conveniently located housing units has become a serious problem in recent years because of rapidly rising housing costs. Using data provided by Mihaela Farcas, Director of the Office of Off-Campus Living (OCL), the committee learned that:

  • Housing prices near campus have risen 40% in the past two years
  • Students must look for and secure off-campus housing in December of the previous academic year (three months before the availability of on-campus housing is known)
  • Graduate and international students are squeezed out of the market by the time they begin looking for housing
  • There are concerns about safety among students living in the more distant parts of Philadelphia. Off-campus students are also concerned about access to computers and to activities and services offered by the college houses.

In view of these facts, the committee recommends the University take the following steps:

  • Increase funding to graduate students so they can afford to live near campus.
  • Work with local realtors to guarantee that an adequate supply of housing units be kept available for students arriving in the spring and summer.
  • Increase the number of available off-campus housing units and insure that these are available and affordable to undergraduate students.
  • Assess the computing (IT) needs of students living off-campus and provide these students with easy access to on-campus computers.
  • Assess the integration of off-campus students into the College House System.

Graduate Student Space

The committee wrote a letter to the Provost supporting the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) proposal for a graduate student center on Locust Walk. While the committee was pleased to see that the Locust Walk Committee allocated adequate space, there remains a concern that funding be provided to staff the center.

Transfer Student Orientation

The committee is satisfied with changes made recently to include transfer students in the orientation program during August.

--Anthony L. Rostain, Chair

1999-2000 Council Committee on Quality of Student Life

Chair: Anthony Rostain, psychiatry; Faculty: Linda Brown, nursing; Helen C. Davies, microbiol/med; Dennis DeTurck, mathematics; Zoltan Domotor, philosophy; Alan Mann, anthropology; Karin McGowan, pediatrics; Michael Zuckerman, history; Graduate/professional students: Victor Calanog ,WHG ; Kendra Nicholson, SW; Undergraduate students: Gisela Glandt, COL; Vani Krishnamurthy, COL; Nishchay Maskay, COL; PPSA: Peggy Curchack, career svcs; Anne Mickle, college house prog; Ex officio: William Christian Gipson, University chaplain; Kendra Nicholson, interim chair, GAPSA; Michael Silver, chair, UA; Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, VPUL.

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 5, September 26, 2000

| FRONT PAGE | CONTENTS | JOB-OPS | CRIMESTATS | BENCHMARKS: Electronic Privacy in Practice | 1999-2000 COUNCIL REPORTS: Admissions & Financial Aid, Pluralism, Communications, Community Relations, Personnel Benefits and Quality of Student Life | TALK ABOUT TEACHING ARCHIVE | BETWEEN ISSUES | OCTOBER at PENN |