Schapiro discusses ‘brothel law,’ student center at ASG Senate

Sammy Caiola

University President Morton Schapiro made a guest appearance at the Associated Student GovernmentSenate meeting Wednesday night during which he answered questions about off-campus housing, the New Student Center Initiative and the upcoming Strategic Plan.

Schapiro spoke at Senate once last year and said he is honored to have been invited again because he values feedback from undergraduates. Prompted by senators’ inquiries, he addressed the Evanston city ordinance commonly known as the “brothel law” that sparked controversy on campus earlier this quarter.

As of now, the ordinance prohibiting more than three unrelated people from living together is still in place, though Evanston officials have stated they will not be enforcing the law. Schapiro said he has been working closely with Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl to work out a compromise that is beneficial to both students and residents.

“I’ve never liked having laws on the books that nobody obeys,” Schapiro said. “That law can definitely be modified in some ways. But the city has our back in ways that students wouldn’t believe.”

ASG has been making progress of its own regarding the ordinance, mainly involving a compilation of student feedback that will be presented to city officials. ASG President Claire Lew and Ethan Merel, vice president of external relations, have been working on coming up with potential amendments to the ordinance.

There will be an on-campus forum to discuss the ordinance Feb. 22, and the mayor and aldermen will be attending a Senate meeting on March 2.

“We’ve been in constant communication with Evanston and Illinois organizations,” Merel, a Weinberg sophomore, said. “We’re still fleshing out what it will look like. It will most likely have to do with the square footage of room. We’re just trying to strike a political balance.”

Senate also discussed the NSC Initiative. Schapiro discussed the possibility of investing more money in Norris University Center and the Donald P. Jacobs Center, as well as building a new center altogether, but said he still hasn’t made up his mind.

Schapiro also referenced the success of pre-existing spaces like Lisa’s Cafe, Fran’s Cafe and the Great Room and said he wanted to build a greater sense of community among undergraduates.

“What the Strategic Plan says is that we’re going to get the right kind of space for students, but we don’t know quite what yet,” Schapiro said. “We’re going to continue to make major investments in undergraduate life. In all the things I do, nothing gives me greater satisfaction.”

Several ongoing Senate initiatives are in the works, including allowing students to reserve the use of Deering Field for groups. ASG senators sent surveys via e-mail and received approximately 1,000 student responses, said Lew, a SESP senior. She will be meeting with Facilities Management Thursday and will be proposing an idea in two weeks.

Lew is also spearheading a Wildcat Welcome Community Service Day during which incoming freshmen will help the Evanston community.

“We will have 2,000 freshmen at various sites in Evanston helping out,” Lew said. “We are absolutely doing it. We’ll be putting together a committee. It will be, essentially, a new Northwestern tradition.”

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