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Commuter students will now be allowed swipe access into one residence hall on campus, but a resident of that building must be liable for that student for the whole year.

Administrators will allow swipe access for commuter students to at most one residence hall on campus, Engineering Student Council president Siddhant Bhatt, SEAS '14, announced at Monday night's ESC meeting.

Over the summer, Residential Programs changed its policy, such that students who live off campus could no longer fill out a form to gain swipe access to residence halls as they had been able to in previous years. Instead, off-campus students would have to be signed in as guests each time they wanted to enter any residence hall.

Following weeks of discussion with Residential Programs and Student Affairs, ESC and Columbia College Student Council reached an agreement to allow “residents to assume liability for up to three off-campus students, who will then be granted swipe access into the host student's residence hall,” according to a statement from the councils. Councilmembers met with Director of Residential Programs Cristen Kromm and Interim Dean of Student Affairs Terry Martinez Monday morning to discuss swipe access. 

Bhatt stressed that though this is a positive step, it is not what he and CCSC president Daphne Chen, CC '14, asked for initially. They had urged administrators to implement the policy next year because they believed it was unfair that students who made housing decisions prior to the policy change would be subject to it. Additionally, they had hoped for more time to discuss the issue and consider other options of structuring a new policy.

“It is not in line with full access … but that is the outcome we have at this point in time,” Bhatt said. 

The policy will go into effect after fall break, according to Bhatt. Students will be able to fill out a form online for Public Safety to review.

With the new policy, a building resident must be liable for the off-campus student for the rest of the academic year. Previously, off-campus students would fill out the forms themselves and no residents would be liable for them.

The host will face the same liabilities as outlined in the Guide to Living for signing in any guest.

ESC also discussed the restoration of undergraduate access to Watson Library during the exam period, after 7 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.

Bhatt also brought up creating more study spaces around campus during exam periods, particularly in Lerner Hall since student groups cannot book space in Lerner for that time. The council is working with Student Affairs to bring in desks and cubicles in Lerner to better utilize the space.

ESC voted unanimously to support the creation of a math competition for high school students, which will happen this November.

Representatives from Barnard Columbia Divest came to the meeting to give updates on their efforts to divest Columbia's endowment from fossil fuels. ESC representatives raised concerns about losing power to lobby fossil fuel companies if the University were to divest, and creating tension between the school and various firms that engineering students sometimes intern or work for after graduation.  |  @llchen8

Engineering Student Council ESC swipe access
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