Proposed three-year on-campus living rule angers local landlords

Senior officials of the College are discussing plans to require students to live on campus for three years, and local landlords are upset about it.

The requirement, which currently has no set implementation date, would require students to live on campus until their senior year. This change would also effectively cut the rental housing market in half for local landlords.

One such opponent of the possible requirement is Dominic Friscia. Originally from Long Island, Friscia is a Geneseo alumnus and graduated from the College in 1979 with a B.A. in biology. He then decided to stay in the area after graduation in order to pursue a career in real estate. He currently owns several properties in and around the village of Geneseo, as well as a bed and breakfast and a tax-preparation business on Main Street.

"I do not have a right to rent property to college students, but I do have a right to compete. They are trying to take away my ability to compete," Friscia said. "And considering the fact that you can sometimes save almost 50 percent by living off-campus, it is definitely something that should be closely looked at."

Friscia stressed the importance of symbiosis between the College and the community, a partnership that he feels the College is undermining and exploiting. "This whole thing is about money, not about some sort of quality of life. This change is not about creating some sort of 'college experience;' living independently in the community is its very own very real 'college experience.' In the end, the College stands to gain a huge amount of money, and that's why they're doing it."

Andrew Baker, assistant director of Residence Life, was eager to emphasize that the three-year requirement may not be imposed for several more years. "This initiative has been proposed by President Dahl and has been discussed in his Cabinet. It has not been made policy." However, the consensus among many Residence Life staffers seems to be that there is not a matter of "if" with this issue, only a matter of "when."

William Wadsworth, president of the Geneseo Rental Housing Association (GRHA) said that the GRHA may be willing to help take matters to court if the three-year requirement is imposed. In the event that the College does impose this requirement, the possibility of sponsoring students to file a class action lawsuit against the College has been discussed at GRHA meetings.

Friscia, Wadsworth and Baker all stated that, to their knowledge, no overtures or liaisons have been sent to the Geneseo village community on behalf of the College to discuss this issue.

Logistically, the current campus would be completely unable to house the additional 900 or so juniors who would be required to stay. However, several new plans are under way to change that.

Erie Hall is scheduled to be open to students once again by Spring 2008, and a new building named Seneca Hall is scheduled to be built and finished by Fall 2010. In addition, Residence Life Director Ralph Carrasquillo is now currently organizing off-campus student focus groups to discuss alterations for Central Village, consisting of Livingston, Jones and Monroe Halls, in the coming years. There has been definite talk that these three residence halls, the oldest on campus, will be demolished to make way for large, upperclassmen housing developments.