Resident Life creates Hebrew cluster chaos (Sept. 1994)

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By Lisa Fine

St. Mary’s Hall residents who went through a stringent application process to be placed in the Hebrew language cluster are incensed about their new neighbor.

Resident life officials filled a vacancy in the female suite last week with a student who had been living in a temporary triple room in Easton Hall.

Each year, students hoping to enhance their Hebrew language skills vie for the ten coveted openings in the Hebrew cluster which consists of a male and female suite.

To remedy the overflow of students requesting to live on campus, resident life officials had to utilize all available vacancies, even in specialty programs like the language house, said Jan Davidson, assistant to the director of resident life.

“We did this with reluctance to place a student into an established program like the Hebrew cluster,” Davidson said.

Jen Saxman, a student who was moved into the Hebrew language cluster on Rosh Hashanah does not have to meet language house application requirements, register for Hebrew classes or participate in cluster activities or meetings.

“When your choice is extending someone’s stay in a triple or getting them out of the situation, you’d choose to get them out,” Davidson said.img_0499

With little advanced warning, Hebrew cluster residents were issued a memo from St. Mary’s officials on Rosh Hashanah at 6:00 p.m. informing them if they didn’t recruit a student to fill the vacancy in the female suite, then a random student would be assigned.

Then, Saxman moved in at 7:30 p.m., only one and a half hours later.

“We didn’t get enough time to consider anyone that was interested in moving in,” said Raz Kaminitz, Hebrew cluster mentor.

Kaminitz said he knew of at least three female students that were on a waiting list to live in the suite if an opening became available.”As far as I know, nobody on the list was contacted,” he said.

“We weren’t aware that anyone was on the waiting list for the Hebrew suite,” Davidson said. “We wouldn’t have gone and filed the vacancy if there was someone waiting for it.”

Hebrew cluster resident Stacy Berkman, a junior government major, said everyone in the cluster was upset when Saxman moved in because they felt it was a breach of their housing contract. “We signed a contract agreeing to meet certain requirements and speak the language as often as possible,” Berkman said.

Berkman said she and her suite mates are upset because they feel rude speaking Hebrew around Saxman, who doesn’t understand the language. “If we can’t speak Hebrew around our suite mate, it defeats the whole purpose of why we are here,” she said.

img_0502Another resident of the suite, Adi Keren, a sophomore pre-medm major, said she feels bad for Saxman because she “didn’t know what she was getting into.” Karen said she and the other residents try to keep kosher and Saxman therefore had to buy her own set of dishes. “She [Saxman] doesn’t understand the laws of keeping kosher. She said if she makes a mistake in the kitchen that ‘not to worry, she’ll fix it.’ It’s just not something you can fix,” Keren said.

The male and female residents of the Hebrew cluster have scheduled a meeting this week with St. Mary’s officials and a resident life representative to discuss their feelings about the situation.

“We’d like Saxman to move out if not this semester then next semester,” Kiminitz said. “It’s not that we don’t like her as a person. She is very nice; we just want someone to live in the Hebrew cluster that is interested in speaking and learning Hebrew.” Saxman could not be reached for comment.

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