As of March 10, Campus Safety will no longer be accepting student items into campus spaces and, effective this summer, there will not be on-campus storage for the general student population. Although storage will no longer be widely available, international students and students on financial aid, as well as students who contact their advising deans about their situation, can gain special permission to still use campus facilities to store their belongings. For the rest of students in need of storage options, Residential Life held a Student Storage Expo on February 16 to provide information and to facilitate student interaction with outside vendors and businesses who can provide storage off-campus.
This change in policy, resulting from the recommendation of Campus Safety and decided upon by the Dean of the College staff, was brought about after administrators began to ask questions about how to better assist students with storage needs, according to Associate Vice President and Dean for Residential Programs and Student Support Sue Smith.
“We were trying to meet students’ needs in a way we were not adequately equipped for,” Smith said.
The decision was made in light of concerns about the quality and condition of the storage facilities, which exist in many of the basements of residential buildings, and staffing concerns from Campus Safety, which has traditionally been in charge of opening the storage facilities for students.
Based on recommendations from members of the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Student Affairs Board (SAB), Director of Residential Programs Kerra Hunter worked to address concerns about international students as well as students with demonstrated financial need as they might be especially affected by this change in policy. Hunter has helped to set up a system in which individual and corresponding offices, such as the Office of International Student Services, will manage students who fall into these categories and coordinate the storage process as needed.
Smith stressed the collaborative aspect of this change in policy and the inclusion of different voices and groups in the process. According to Smith, administrators went before the SGA as well as the SAB in order to get student perspectives and to try to ensure a smooth transition.
SGA Vice President and Senior David Kim commented on SGA’s role in this process.
“The administration communicated to us their finalization of the storage unit policy, and we provided student concerns and voices. Overall, we support the administration’s effort to address the diverse needs of students in regards to the policy, but we also realize we need to make sure every student can have access to storage units, so we are working with them to ensure that,” Kim said.
Sophomore and Student Affairs Board member Ryan Stahlin said that he believes this change in policy needed to happen, and acknowledged many of the concerns over on-campus storage which were voiced by Smith. As a student sitting on the Board, which includes administrators, faculty members and students and which acts as an advisory board for the Dean of the College and the Dean’s staff, Stahlin stated he was made aware of this change in policy and worked with members of the Board to discuss this issue and its implications.
Based on these discussions, Hunter facilitated and planned the Storage Expo in order to help make students more aware of their options when it comes to storage. According to Hunter, Colgate’s Purchasing Department put together a list of suggested vendors and businesses for Colgate students to use, taking into account cost of service, locality and flexibility (a list of these vendors can be found in the Office of Residential Life). Hunter then reached out to these vendors and invited them to attend the Expo, which took place in the Coop on February 16.
College Truckers, a student-run organization that helps students move out and store their belongings, was one of the vendors recommended by the Purchasing Department. Sophomore Tycen Better, a co-founder, co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of College Truckers, said he is excited to introduce his company’s service to many students who had previously used on-campus storage. “We believe our service helps immensely with the hassle of move out… [and] since on-campus storage has been eliminated, we hope to work with the administration to provide our service to students of all financial backgrounds so that every student can have a stress-free move-out week,” Better said.
Better said that his business tabled at the Storage Expo.
“I thought [the Expo] went well and it was great to see a lot of students who were interested in summer storage who we could hand out our brochures to. The Expo was so early in the semester that most students were not thinking about summer storage yet though, so I wish the school had had it much later in the semester so that students were seriously considering it when we talked to them,” Better said.
Both Stahlin and Hunter also stated that turnout at the Expo from both students and vendors was low. Stahlin attributed this to a lack of advertising, as only one email was sent out about the event a few days prior.
Stahlin voiced some concerns about the importance of getting the word out about this change in policy, particularly due to the potentially high demand for storage space within the community.
“Most of these [recommended storage] companies say they fill up by April or March which is pretty early, so students can’t do it last minute. I’m worried that students will wait until it’s too late to find other storage options,” Stahlin said.
Besides being worried about student awareness, Stahlin said he was concerned about what he believes are misconceptions.
“I think a lot of people think that the administration is trying to be intentionally mean to students when they take away storage, when in reality, I do see the need for it. It wasn’t regulated, people were getting their stuff stolen, their goods damaged and there was no real way to guarantee the safety of things. And there was no room within Campus Safety to expand their ability to control that… Basically the administration did what they thought would be best and made the decision to end storage on campus,” Stahlin said.
Sophomore Tiffany Castillo voiced her opinion on this change.
“What really bothered me and some of my friends is that it was assumed that all students would be able to afford summer storage when there are many different students with different financial backgrounds. The reasoning behind taking away summer storage has also been pretty unclear and this makes it seem that [the administration] is changing the…system for their own benefit rather than thinking about the implications it has on students,” Castillo said.
Senior Ashley Brekke, who is from California, said that this is a change that she believes is going to negatively impact students on campus.
“Free, on-campus storage has been one of the benefits of coming to Colgate for many students, especially as California is the third most represented state at this school, and storage is a huge need for people who live far away who already have to bear the costs of transportation in order to get here… There’s been all these plans for construction and renovation on campus. Why isn’t this [need for on-campus storage] being accommodated and incorporated in those plans? Especially since Colgate seems to be wanting to get more students from different areas of the country and the world?” Brekke said.
Brekke has stored her belongings in Colgate’s on-campus facilities before and acknowledged that although she has not had any problems with theft or damage to her things, a friend did have a box, containing personal and sentimental items, stolen. Despite this, Brekke maintains her concern that this option will no longer be widely available.
“I’m already struggling to just get my stuff home after graduation; in years prior, if I didn’t have the on-campus storage option, I don’t know what I would have done. We’ve made [on-campus storage] work in the past, and I don’t see why we can’t continue to make it work,” Brekke said.