In response to an e-mail sent out Tuesday by the Council of Masters announcing that students would have to adhere to stricter storage policies this summer, the Yale College Council has drafted a letter asking the Council of Masters to hold off on the new policies for a year in order to give students more time to adjust.
“There are many more things we could have done with more time,” YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 said. “All we’re asking right now is to let each master decide which policy is best for their college, especially the bigger colleges that have more space and aren’t renovated — Silliman, Morse and [Ezra] Stiles [colleges] specifically.”
The letter noted that the short notice is bringing an undue burden on students trying to find transportation and outside storage, which are both in short supply.
“This burden may be particularly harmful to some students due to their location, the total amount of their furnishings, and their financial situation,” the letter said.
Calhoun College Master William Sledge, who played a leading role in developing the new policies, said he understood the YCC’s concerns.
“I’m completely sympathetic,” Sledge said. “We’ll certainly take a look at it and form some sort of response. These concerns are reasonable and valid, and in the best of all worlds it would have happened in October. But we’ll make it work.”
Sledge said the changes were made because of the loss of space in newly renovated colleges and the desires of masters to have a uniform policy. He added that every year students attempt to store food, hazardous chemicals and liquids.
“All of us have had increasingly nightmarish experiences with storage,” Sledge said. “It doesn’t seem like a very good business for us to be in.”
Sledge was particularly critical of refrigerators, the storage of which the new policies do not allow.
“Refrigerators are the worst,” Sledge said. “They take a lot of space and are extremely hard to administer because of the things people leave in them.”
Sledge also said refrigerators are “illegal to begin with,” but the Undergraduate Regulations do not list refrigerators among the items prohibited in dorm rooms.
Branford College Senior Administrative Assistant Alicia Heaney said Branford had already decided to change its policy because of an overflow last year. She said she warned students to start taking things home at Spring Break because they would not be able to store as many items as they have in previous years.
“The storage last year in Branford was just appalling,” Heaney said. “We had a whole area under the master’s house that was so filled and so jammed up, somebody left a window open and we couldn’t get in there to get it closed.”
Prabhakaran said the new policy will have deleterious effect especially on international students who might have brought fewer things if they had known about the storage limitations at the beginning of the year.
“International students are especially affected by this, because most of the time they bring more stuff at the beginning of their four years,” Prabhakaran said. “Not such a problem had they known at the beginning of year. Most of the [private storage spaces] we’ve called are running out of space, bigger spaces are filling up quicker especially by other colleges in the area.”
Alim Manji ’04 said he did not store anything in the college last year and he thinks college storage space is unsafe.
“I was totally indifferent to [the new policy] just because I’d rather spend some money and split a storage space with some friends and know that it’s totally safe and won’t be flooded because I’ve heard that’s happened in the past,” Manji said. “My roommate got his fridge stolen, so I wouldn’t leave any stuff in the college anyway.”
YCC Rep. Lindsey Parker ’04 said students on financial aid will be unfairly affected by this policy. She said she agrees with the letter from the YCC, that the policy should be put off for a year so individual colleges can make their own policies.
“Now it’s too late, we have to fork over entirely too much money for this thing to work feasibly where they could have just put this off for a year so we could make appropriate decisions,” Parker said.
Sledge said students’ concerns did not surprise him.
“We thought it would be difficult, we knew it would be painful, we knew it was close to the end of the year,” Sledge said. “And we’ll try to deal with those concerns in a reasonable way.”
–Additional reporting by Emily Anthes.