Daily Collegian April 5, 1978
PIERPONT TROUBLES FLARE
STUDENTS STAGE SIT-IN
By MARK LECCESE
Students staged a sit-in yesterday in front of James Matlack's office to protest his plan to change residency rules in Pierpont dormitory and also to protest a lack of student tenant rights.
Matlack, master-director of Southwest Residential College, was out of his office most of the day at classes and appointments.
At 2 p.m. Matlack stopped into his office in John Quincy Adams dormitory and about 25 students crowded around his door. When he emerged, the protest became emotional.
"You just don't have the right to try and control our living space," one student shouted.
"That is not a power I claim, that is a power my superiors tell me ! have," Matlack said.
Many students said they planned an all-night vigil in front of Matlack's office. A march to Whitmore from Pierpont will be held today at 1 p.m.
Today's protest will focus not only on Pierpont but also on legal rights for dormitory residents.
David Barenberg, a spokesman for the protest, said, "In the past, we have tried negotiating with administrators, but things haven't changed. Conditions have worsened. There are still leaks in the ceilings, still insects in the dorms, still mold in the bathrooms.
"Now they're trying to evict some residents of one dorm. Once it has been done to one dorm, it can be done to any dorm." The Pierpont controversy centered around Matlack's proposal last month limiting residency in Pierpont to freshmen and sophomores this fall.
After originally saying this proposal was final, Matlack said he would consider an alternative plan for strengthening discipline in the dorm. He said the plan would have to be drawn up by the community by room choosing time, which was three weeks away.
A Pierpont committee submitted two proposals to Matlack last week. Matlack said he consolidated and "built on" the proposals, and offered a new proposal to the Pierpont community for a vote.
If the Pierpont community voted down this new proposal, Matlack said his original plan to limit residency to freshmen and sophomores would go into effect this fall.
The new proposal submitted by Matlack contained three sections: Two sections set up a "House Council," which would be a governing body, and a "Judiciary Board" which would enforce the dorm rules.
The dorm rules were spelled out in a "Social Contract" section. Under the proposal any student who wanted to live in Pierpont would have to sign this, and agree to abide by all the enumerated rules.
These rules included rules and regulations listed in University policy, and a clause that reads "Each resident has a duty to prevent and-or report all forms of destructive behavior."
One student called the enforcement of these rules on Pierpont students "capricious and arbitrary." Another student asked, "Why don't people in the other dorms have to sign something like this?"
Matlack said the social contract part of the proposal would be enforced because of "what led to where we are now. The condition of the dorm, and the agreement that improvement is needed."
Students in Pierpont were originally given only until yesterday to vote on Matlack's new, three section proposal, but Matlack and Pierpont head-of-residence Dusty Miller announced last night that room choosing would be put off in Pierpont until Friday.
Matlack said this postponement was "to allow some time to look for some alternative to what seems at the moment to be an impasse."
Lynsey Rzeszut, a spokeswoman for Pierpont, said, "Matlack never negotiates in good faith. We're not going to back down this time."
"It's not that they're listening to us and not responding," said one student. "They're not even listening."
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