Archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Watkins Hall resident alleges retribution from lawsuit

April 25, 2001


Now, she says, her involvement in that lawsuit has cost her a job as the hall's proctor.

Officials from KU's department of student housing have announced that Aidan Loveland, a junior from Lawrence, will be the hall's proctor during the 2001-2002 school year. A three-member committee of Watkins residents had recommended Kuiper for the job.

Thirty-seven hall residents signed a petition protesting the decision, which was presented to the housing department.

"It was unprecedented for housing to veto our decision," said senior house member Olga Ramm. "And now they're feeding us this sound bite that they're the ones deciding the proctor, not us. But still, it's never happened before."

Although housing officials haven't confirmed it, Kuiper attributed the university's decision to the lawsuit filed by her and 25 other residents of Watkins and Miller halls in March.

The suit alleges that KU and Bank of America, which administers the trust left by Elizabeth Miller Watkins, have mishandled millions of dollars intended for upkeep on the halls.

Bank of America attorneys initially discussed settling the lawsuit, but a new firm hired by the bank has stopped negotiations, said David Brown, the attorney representing the hall residents. A hearing on the suit is scheduled for Monday.

"They questioned my loyalty to my hall because of my involvement in ... the lawsuit," said Kuiper, a junior from Salina. "I feel it reflects my loyalty to the hall. I feel this is very important to get this worked out. The problems with our funds need to get worked out for our future."

Ken Stoner, director of student housing, said the decision had nothing to do with the lawsuit. But he said confidentiality reasons prevented him from expanding on that.

"In the course of decisions that are made, there will be legitimate differences of opinions," he said. "In general, there are multiple points of view that go into the selection process."

Stoner said the residents' input was only one of several factors in the decision. The candidates' prospective superiors also have a say, he said.

"I think there's a distinction here," he said, "a difference between being heard and having input, and having every decision going your way. Those sometimes are different things."

Paige Isaacson, a sophomore Watkins resident, called the decision "frustrating." But she said she was more concerned it could set a bad precedent for future proctor decisions.

"The whole point is this is where we live and we should have some say in what we do here," she said. "We know the people better than they do. They'll both do a good job, but Kaili was picked by the committee for a reason -- she was more qualified for the position."

Loveland said she didn't expect the residents' concerns to affect her year as proctor.

"When you're living in a hall with 50 women and you have to vote for something between your friends, you're initially bummed that your friend didn't make it in," she said. "Then, later, you realize it's not that big a deal."

-- Staff writer Terry Rombeck can be reached at 832-7145.

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