The rise and fall of Reslife stories

By Colin Tomczak
May 4, 2024

"Houses are starting to take shape. Builder expects to meet January deadline." Photo via Detsy Lynch.
"Houses are starting to take shape. Builder expects to meet January deadline." Photo via Detsy Lynch.

One common theme among previous ResLife stories is that they covered the expansion of Cabrini’s student body in one way or another.

Male students begin living on campus

In 1974, the Loquitur published a story that covered a massively controversial decision for the all-women’s campus. The story by Mary Lynn Carone, “Cabrini Opens its Dorms to Male Students” began with a variety of quotes showing the divided reception of this decision. Quotes like, “Cabrini is going to the dogs,” and “They must be hard up for money,” were placed next to, “It should have happened years ago,” and “It’s about time!”

This article also featured the results of a survey conducted by the Council of College affairs. Out of 370 participants, consisting of students, faculty and administration, 267 expressed no qualms with this expansion of the student body. However, one of the primary objections to having male students reside on campus was the belief Cabrini should have worked on improving the already-existing issues female residents had faced before introducing more students and more problems to campus living.

More students, more housing

Housing accommodations were unable to keep up with the rise in residential students. In May 1979 an article by Detsy Lynch titled, “Houses to be built as dorms,” came out explained the state of the Cabrini housing crisis. The president of Cabrini at the time, Sister Mary Louise Sullivan, said about overcrowding, “We needed 30 extra spaces this semester alone. A study of statistics for next year shows that there is going to be a greater need for additional residency space on campus.”

House 1 (bottom left), House 2 (top), and House 3 (bottom right) were constructed in colonial, traditional, and contemporary style respectively. Photos via The Loquitur.

The solution to the overcrowding issue was the construction of more housing. An article written by Marie Pizzuto from October 12, 1979, titled, “President reviews housing problem,” went into detail about problems related to the ongoing construction. The original timeline for the construction of new houses was to begin on June 1, and be completed by October 1. However, as the article explained, “Because of weeks of bad weather, much of the construction was delayed.” The article concluded with a new estimated time of completion: “just before the start of next semester.”

This time, the deadline did not get pushed back. Regina O’Leary wrote an article titled, “New houses have become a reality” in February 1980 covered the reception to the newly constructed houses. The houses were originally named House 1, 2, 3, but were renamed MacGuire, Dixon, and Infante respectively. While the residents of each house felt positive about the new buildings, the article explained a common concern about living in them. Residence Life wanted the buildings to have a “lived in but maintained look,” leading to restrictions on how residents could decorate. Students reported they felt like they were housesitting.

Almost four decades later, Cabrini continued to face overcrowding problems. Cecelia Heckman’s story: “Seniors fear they may be forced to live off campus because of housing crunch” appeared in the Loquitur in April 2017. It explored worries among the student population, especially seniors. Residence Life alerted students to a potential housing problem that would have forced a portion of the student population to live off-campus. This, in addition to a $100 increase in the application fee and restricted options for students of each grade level, created a panic that subsided after ResLife hosted six different info sessions explaining how to navigate the new process.

A blind spot of coverage

Graphic based on 2017 statistics. Graphic via Cecelia Heckman.

The only article about ResLife published in the past nine months was Brooke Protesto’s, “Ins and outs of ResLife health and safety checks” from October 2023. This article highlights students’ rising frustrations toward ResLife, especially after the first set of health and safety inspections. Although health and safety inspections have been a consistent practice of ResLife, the nature of these specific inspections left students feeling their privacy was invaded.

The bulk of Loquitur articles about Residence Life covered the challenges that arose during times of expansion. However, there is a gap in recent ResLife coverage particularly after the announcement of Cabrini’s closure, and the effects the shrinking student population had on the department of Residence Life.

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Colin Tomczak

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