Student Life begins enforcement of 2017 travel policy: “One student per bed” policy creates student frustration as well as potential spending on extra hotel rooms

By Adam Duke

Copy Editor

A policy that requires students traveling on school-funded trips to limit one student per bed in hotel rooms has caused concern among club leaders, who fear that the policy will cause them to spend more student funds on additional hotel rooms.

College policies were rewritten during the transition from former assistant director of student engagement for Student Life, Beth Crvelin, who departed in February, to current assistant director, Phil Ciallela, who took over in June. The policy was implemented on May 8, 2017, however, due to the Student Life administrative transition, the policy was slow to make its way to clubs and organizations, including the Undergraduate Student Association (USA).

We are now making sure we are enforcing the policy for all trips for clubs and organizations,” said Ciallela in an email. “This update was included to ensure all students are comfortable and safe on college trips. The same policy exists for staff, faculty, and athletic road trips.”

In volume VI of the school’s policy manual, under the “Procedures/Guidelines” section, policy 6.5.6 states that when a student club or organization is traveling with an overnight stay, there may be a maximum of three students in a room, with each student receiving their own bed. Should a third bed not be available, only two students may be assigned to a room.

On Feb. 7, 2018, Connor Rosenecker ‘18, vice president of business and finance for USA, sent an email to club leaders to alert them that the change would be going into effect for the spring semester.

My step in informing everybody was just for the sake of informing people,” said Rosenecker regarding the email. “I don’t really think it’s going to lead to as much change, as much as [the fact that], now people know. So that people aren’t so worried about things going forward or if they have that concern, that there’s actually something in place now.”

After receiving the email, however, several club leaders became frustrated with the enforcement of the policy, due to financial repercussions and social issue concerns.

Cindy Ly ‘19, president of C-Block, explained that the club had already planned their trip to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) basketball tournament in Albany, with the intention of bringing 24 students, as there would be two students to a bed, four to a room. “This trip is always hard to plan because we want to bring as many fans as we can,” she said. “Last year, we didn’t have the policy where you had to have one person per bed. I don’t see why there is a problem with having two people.”

Alex LaRocca ‘18, president of Mock Trial and the pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta, explained that for him, the policy means doubling costs of hotel room budget while planning trips. He also voiced displeasure with the policy being enforced halfway through the year.

Hotels aren’t something cheap, and given certain preferences and views on the Travel Team, it’s known that they may not always be going for the most inexpensive option for the students. I’m also very confused as to why this is coming at the start of the spring semester instead of the start of the academic year in the fall,” he said. “With our budget being used for that in one semester and then having to completely change how the budget gets used in the spring, Mock Trial has never been scrutinized for need of appeal for finances because it’s how our budget operates.”  

Ly reiterated LaRocca’s point, questioning why the policy hadn’t been enforced at the beginning of the year if it were really as important as it is being made out to be. She added that the policy does not seem cost-effective for clubs.

Canisius’ assistant athletic director for communications, Matt Reitnour, said that a similar policy was implemented in athletics several years ago. “Some of the larger roster teams will travel and they will ask hotels if they can provide cots so that they can add people to the travel roster,” he said. “We have some programs here who have used air mattresses if a cot is not available or the hotel doesn’t have enough cots.”

Reitnour continued, saying that though there isn’t someone who checks the travel roster and the hotel reservations to ensure that each athlete has his or her own bed, it is the department’s goal for the comfort of their Division I athletes to have as much rest as possible, in addition to having a positive travel experience.

“It is our goal as an athletic department to give our student-athletes the best experience possible, whether that’s the gear that they wear or the amount of per diem they get on the road,” Reitnour added. “These are things that we are always looking at to make sure we are improving and making sure our student athletes are getting the best experience.”

Rob DeVita, director of new media and communications at the MAAC, said that lodging arrangements are at the discretion of the institutions and is not something that is mandated by the conference.

Reitnour noted that travel is not cheap, especially when teams with large rosters are playing several away games each year. He emphasized the efforts of teams and coaches to help pay for travel. “Our programs our fundraising so that they can travel properly,” said Reitnour.

Unlike Division I sports, club sports have less funding, despite traveling more than academic clubs. Though the club hockey team does not always have an overnight stay with each away game, they are scheduled for 21 road games throughout their season, from September to February.

Freshman goaltender Eric Piotrowski said that players share rooms, typically three to four players to each room. “The rule is, for club hockey at least, to get your own bed, you have to be the number one point scorer in your room; it’s the reward for doing well that weekend,” he said. He added that on the trips, the goalies share a bed. “I don’t think getting your own bed is really that big of a deal if you’re close enough with the people in your club [and] you’re able to build a relationship. It’s really not that big of a deal sleeping there for a couple hours. I have no problem with it.”

Rosenecker said that he does not believe that the policy will change the nature of appeals

too much, as clubs will still be able to make appeals for similar numbers of people and similar purposes. Despite having to budget for extra rooms, the way appeals are made will be the same.

It’s going to be tough to pinpoint exactly what the ramifications will be on clubs because we don’t have any examples yet of, essentially, the impact that it’s had,” he added.

One issue that has come up already is clubs having to cut down on students traveling on already-budgeted-for trips. Ly said that the C-Block trip, which planned on bringing 24 people, has had to trim the number of students traveling to Albany to 12.

I had to talk to my E-Board members and say, ‘We have 24 people going to MAACs, right? Now we have to split that.’ And it’s like 12 people,” she said. “So what’s the point of even going on the trip if we can’t take as many people as we wanted to in the first place?”

LaRocca said that most hotels come equipped with four pillows per queen-size bed, so no one loses a pillow when sharing beds. He spoke on having made accommodations for five people in a room in the past, with one person sleeping on the floor. He explained that there was a misnumbering of people while making plans for that trip, and that the fifth person used a blanket from the room’s closet and was fine with doing so. He also said that prior to the college’s use of Travel Team’s services, students who were uncomfortable with sharing a bed could pay a higher rate than other students and would be taken care of accordingly. He added that staying in the hotel is not the point of the trip, and that the goal should be to get as many deserving students to go on the trip as possible.

“With Mock Trial trips and the Phi Alpha Delta trip, the idea is to get to the destination, not spend hours upon hours in a hotel room. Mock Trial weekends, I myself, unfortunately have insomnia, and I spend most of it just prepping the case and helping the team be prepared,” he said. “With Phi Alpha Delta, there are some days when we are up at seven in the morning, and with students going out and seeing the entire nation’s capital, there’s no telling what time they come in. We spend more time in the city itself than in the hotel room scrutinizing what we’re doing.”

Rosenecker said that no matter what a club wants to do, they still have to follow the school’s policies. “If they’re trying to just be cost-efficient because of the number of rooms, I don’t know if that’s going to be the most important consideration when reviewing an appeal anymore,” he said. “The policy is something that even if a club wants to have people share beds, I don’t think the college will allow it.”

Joy Riso ‘18, treasurer for UNITY, the LGBTQ+ club at Canisius, said that she believes the policy is a gender identity issue. “I would go on a trip, as a trans woman, I’d have to have my own bed, but two other cis women could share a bed. And that’s discrimination,” she said. “Changing the rule is just a safeguard, I feel, so that it seems like less of a discriminatory practice, just because they don’t think trans people, for whatever reason, are capable of sharing a bed with a cis person.”

Riso also said that in the past, the school tried to put her in her own room, which was a blatant attempt at discrimination. She said that the biggest financial issue facing UNITY was that increasing costs by increasing the number of rooms can hurt individual students who are barely able to afford the trips in the first place. She also added that the costs of separate beds will outweigh the benefits for students in terms of safety and comfort.

“If you’re sharing a room with someone, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the same bed if you’re in harm’s way. You could be in the room next door, you could be anywhere. It’s not going to be just because you’re in the same bed. It’s four feet of safety,” she said. “They already offered options for if you wanted your own room, you could get that arranged. You weren’t forced to share a bed, it was just the standard option. You could choose to have your own room if you chose to pay more”

Ly expressed a similar sentiment regarding comfort. “Even though it’s a comfort thing, I feel like if you’re really uncomfortable with sharing a bed with someone, you shouldn’t be going on trips,” she said.

Matt Mulville, director of Student Life, said that the college spent one year reviewing all college policies and received recommendations from a consultant to make changes to many policies, including this one.

As someone who oversees the conduct policy for the college and given the current environment regarding sexual misconduct and harassment, this is policy is the right thing to do,” he said in an email. In a follow-up email, he elaborated, “I guess for me it’s more common sense. We don’t have 2 people sleeping in a bed on campus, why would we expect our students share a bed on a College sponsored trip. It seems to me the right thing to do is to have everyone have their own bed. When staff and faculty go on College sponsored trip, they don’t share a bed. I think we open up the possibility for problems having students sharing beds.”

Mark Sorel, administrative director for institutional information at the University at Buffalo said that there is no policy regarding amount of students in a bed at UB. “If you can fit two people, so be it. Most people are comfortable with it, and if they’re not, [they] bring a sleeping bag,” he said. He added that they don’t try to pack 15 people into a room that’s 10 by 10, but also aren’t going in the opposite direction, either. “There is no written policy.”

A Niagara University administrator was asked whether or not the school had a similar policy, but did not respond to The Griffin in time for publication. Josh Dumbleton ‘18, the secretary for the Sport Management Association at Niagara said that the policy does not exist at the school. “The trip I went on last semester, we shared beds,” he said. “With all my other trips I’ve been on, we shared beds. I know if we couldn’t share beds, then we wouldn’t go, because we wouldn’t be able to afford it. Club golf I know puts like six people in a room to save money.”

Canisius president and former Griffin editor John J. Hurley said that there is an opportunity for student input to the Board of Trustees and the Student Life committee, through USA president Amelia Greenan. “With something like this hotel thing, USA or students, generally, have input through Dr. Mangione’s office or input through student affairs. That is taken into consideration,” he said. “Sometimes things get decided and then you find out there was more of an issue with students than we expected. Most times, people are trying to say, ‘What’s the impact on students going to be?’ and ‘What do they think?’”

 

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