Summer storage will no longer be available for most Williams students if the proposal of the Campus Safety Committee (CSC) is approved. Though the College’s exact plans are still being finalized, it appears certain that come graduation students will not be able to use the storage spaces in dorms during the summer months. An exception to the policy will likely be made for some students on financial aid.
The new policy would attempt to solve a storage situation that has become exceedingly difficult for the College to manage. In the past, overuse of storage has restricted access to fire safety equipment, alarm panels and sprinkler shut-off valves. Student storage is also one of the primary areas of theft on campus.
Because students are allowed to keep items in storage until they graduate, many items that are left in summer storage are never retrieved. One junior’s TV, for example, has been nestled away in Williams Hall’s basement storage room since the student was a first-year. This year-to-year buildup, along with the items being stored by current residents of the dorms, leads to an unmanageable mess in many of the storage areas.
Further exacerbating the situation is the loss of much of the storage space that the College used to have. Each time a dorm is renovated, space that was used for storage is needed to put in the infrastructure for fresh air ducts, phone/data connections and sprinkler systems. When East College and Fayerweather Hall are renovated this summer, for example, they will lose much of their already limited storage capacity.
The problems caused by storage were brought to the fore last year when a sprinkler was set off during a Halloween party in Williams Hall. Due to the buildup of stored items, security guards were unable to access the sprinkler shut-off for 10 minutes, leading to massive flooding.
In an effort to make it easier for students to find a place for their belongings during the summer months, the College has worked with various storage companies to provide storage opportunities for students. Connors Brothers Movers will provide pickup and delivery of items from seven different locations on campus for five dollars per item per month. Students will, however, be forced to choose a pickup and delivery date in advance. Pickup must be on either on May 18 or May 22, according to the proposal, and delivery must be on either Aug. 31 or Sept. 5. For seven dollars per month, students can have a more flexible delivery schedule.
Though College officials say they believe the cost of these private storage options are reasonable, they recognize that the cost of private storage can be prohibitively high for certain students. To address this problem, the Financial Aid Office will provide exceptions to the no-storage policy for certain students on financial aid, although the number of students granted this exception will probably be only about 100.
Because the policy has not yet been finalized, however, the details of the exception policy are liable to change.
According to Paul Boyer, director of financial aid, the only certainty is that the College is considering some on-campus storage options for students with dire need.
Although the elimination of summer storage may not be ideal for many students at Williams, it is the only solution that the CSC has been able to find. The Committee could not recommend the construction of an off-campus storage space as it would be too expensive and there would still be concerns about theft.
A second option, staffing the storage areas around campus, was not feasible as Buildings & Grounds and Security do not have enough staff to accomplish that feat. According to Adam Grogg ’04, a student member of the CSC, another potential solution that would have the College subsidize storage was scrapped when private storage companies resisted the proposal.
Though the policy may be a major change for Williams students, it is not all that different from the policy at other colleges.
Williams was the only college in a study done by Tom McEvoy, former director of housing, that provided a large number of storage spaces that were unmonitored during the summer. Other colleges, according to the report, either did not provide summer storage or used a central location that could be inventoried and monitored to protect against theft.