Univ. rules apply to ‘AU at Berks’

Housing and Dining Programs, in an effort to accommodate the many students that want to live on campus, arranged alternate housing for upperclassmen at the Berkshire Apartments this semester, according to Jake Meek, a community coordinator at the Berks.

Students who chose to move off campus and live in AU-sponsored apartment housing had to sign housing agreements similar to those signed by students living in AU dorms. Like students living in the dorms, regardless of age, students living in an apartment are not allowed to drink inside their rooms. However independent student renters are not subject to Housing and Dining’s policies, according to Meek.

Drinking in the apartments this semester has not been a problem, according to Meek. Only two alcohol violations have been referred to Student Conduct and Conflict Resolutions, the new office for Judicial Affairs and Mediation Services, according to Rick Treter, director of Residence Life.

“Our kids are surprisingly well behaved,” Meek said.

According to an anonymous source, drinking takes place at the Berks but typically in a room that is not contracted by AU.

Students at the Berks live in various parts of the apartment complex; as a result a resident assistant would not be feasible, according to Meek. Instead, students are subject to a community coordinator, who acts more like a residence director than an RA. A community coordinator is like any other job at AU, according to Meek, which means that there is an application.

The Berks have two community coordinators, Meek and Imani Green. They make sure that the students are safe, and that their basic needs are met. The community coordinators do not perform the typical RA rounds, and there is less policing, Meek said.

However, AU students living in the apartments are not living without security. Each resident is issued a key card, which work similarly to the AU IDs. There is a 24-hour desk receptionist available during the weekend, and a community coordinator is always on call. Safety is the main priority, of both AU and of the community coordinators, according to Meek.

Public Safety works with the Metropolitan Police Department to determine who would best be suited to answer a call, according to Chris Moody, executive director of Housing and Dining Programs. If Public Safety and MPD feel MPD would be the best group to respond to a situation, they have the ability to act in DPS’s place; this is done on a case-by-case basis.

Non-student residents of the Berks often express annoyance with the amount of AU students living in the Berks.

“[It is] the behavior of the students — often time rowdy and sometimes inconsiderate — that cause[s] the most concern,” Treter said. Residents are often annoyed by students’ inconsiderate behavior on weekends.

“I thought [renters] would be glad that the community coordinators were coming in,” Meek said, “but they were not. We had to demonstrate we were changing the atmosphere at the Berks.”

It is unclear how long housing at the Berks will continue, according to Treter. AU has only signed a one-year contract with the apartment complex and may transform the Roper and Clarke buildings into housing after the School of International Service building is complete.

“The Berkshire is an experiment,” Meek said. “As we move along we address issues to make every student here feel like they are taken care of.”

The community coordinators are looking to make the Berks feel more like home; providing students with amenities like wireless Internet, Meek said.

You can reach this writer at news@theeagleonline.com.

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