Can you imagine having a townhouse party without a basement? Well, you might want to start.

“I couldn’t imagine a social life at the townhouses without the basement,” said John Doney ’04. “It is a crucial part of the house. They might as well put five people in an oversized dorm room if they decide to lock it up.”

The administration in charge of Residence Life has begun discussing plans to deal with the current misuse of townhouse basement space, that is designated specifically for storage.

Recently 74 students were found in the basement of one townhouse, which is in violation of fire codes and various other townhouse rules. “Seventy-four people in the basement of a townhouse scares me to death because there may be a fire or a fight and how would everyone get out using the rickety stair cases,” said Laura Cantrell, associate director of Residence Life.

“If this behavior continues to be a problem and a safety concern then I can’t see why in the future we wouldn’t lock them [the basements] off or invest money to actually have them finished,” said Jonathan Stark, residence area coordinator of the townhouse and apartments. “Students are abusing their privileges of having a basement.”

“We have to be proactive if we want to save lives” said Allison Lebonnitte, residence hall coordinator in Jogues, who is also concerned about the number of students that congregate in the basements of townhouses and believes that steps should be taken as a precaution. “Having large groups of people in the townhouse basements is a serious fire hazard. It would be better to act now than before it is too late.”

There have also been concerns that, because townhouses had an extra person added to them this year, the basements may be used as additional living space. Most townhouse residents are angered over the thought of taking away more of the little space that they have been given.

“Townhouses, already reduced in per-capita square footage by the increase in occupancy as of this year, will now be subject to an overall space reduction of one third. The resources that would be devoted to locking the doors should instead be used to make the basements safe for greater occupancy,” said Ian Boner ’04, a current townhouse resident.

The administration is also worried that because of all the student activity that takes place in the basements, the electrical and heating equipment may be damaged. This would not only add to the ever growing stack of townhouse bills but may actually put students in harms way.

The administration may also consider creating a barrier, cutting the basement space in half, to protect the exposed heating and electrical systems. ” We may dry wall the basements in half to provide room for storage but not enough room to throw a big party,” said Cantrell.

No decisions have been made final. “We brainstorm about a lot of things,” said Cantrell, “some are great ideas and some are really bad ideas. It doesn’t mean that they all come to fruition.”

So, although there have been no final decisions made by the residence life to lock off the basements, they have vowed that if the current problem persist then steps will be taken to ensure the safety of all students.

Alternative solutions to the basement situation are also being explored. There are other ideas that would use the space instead of just lock it off. Stark would like to see the basements used for things that the students could use, such as extra laundry rooms, and believes that, “We should find more appropriate uses for the basements then collecting garbage.”

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