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Comments from the Mayor: Sanctuary Cities, Development at Freightway, the Village Budget and more

jonmarkMayor Jon Mark discusses the concept of a sanctuary city, planning a new development at the Freighway site, the possibility of retaining an organizational consultant to review Scarsdale's Village Assessor's office and the Village Budget in his remarks from the February 14 Village Board meeting.

Read below to learn more:

Welcoming Scarsdale: Approximately three weeks ago, President Trump issued an executive order related to immigration. One provision of the order concerns coordination between federal immigration authorities and local police departments and is, therefore, directly relevant to municipal policy and practice. The legal status of the executive order is the subject of widely reported litigation so its ultimate fate has yet to be determined. Presently, the executive order is stayed. However, prompted by that executive order many cities and towns across the country have responded with public statements affirming their position of welcome and inclusion of all people of good will. We in Scarsdale add our voice in affirming those values here in the Village. The following borrows freely from the joint statement issued by our neighbor the City of New Rochelle.

The term "sanctuary city" has no precise definition, and we do not use it in Scarsdale but we do make absolutely clear that all people of good will are welcomed, valued, and respected in our community, regardless of their origins, and that immigrants are an essential part of Scarsdale's identity and future.

I have spoken with our Chief of Police, Andrew Matturo, and Village Manager Steve Pappalardo. Chief Matturo has confirmed that for our Police Department, maintaining a respectful and mutually supportive relationship with all constituencies in Scarsdale is not just the right thing to do, it is also necessary to the promotion of public safety, which depends on mutual trust. That is why the Scarsdale Police Department has not previously nor will it commence engaging in immigration enforcement. In addition, as a budgetary matter, resources are not available to fund our police acting as immigration officers.

Of course, the Scarsdale Police Department will continue coordinating with federal authorities to apprehend and bring to justice criminals who threaten our safety, regardless of their immigration status.

It is important to note, that should the executive order that is presently stayed by the courts be upheld, the foregoing position would in no way violate the terms of the order as presently drafted.

Freightway Lot Planning: The Board's Land Use Committee held a public meeting last Monday, February 6th at Village Hall. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss future plans with respect to the Freightway garage and the potential development of the Freightway site. The Committee listened to a presentation by the Village Planner, Elizabeth Marrinan, discussed process and took questions from residents in attendance. The meeting was recorded and can be viewed on the Scarsdale Public TV web site. In summary, the Freightway garage was built in 1972 and occupies a portion of 2.38 acres owned by the Village. The property is on the west side of the Metro North tracks and extends south from Popham Road to the border with Eastchester. The Village also owns 0.84 acres of air-rights over the Metro North railroad tracks to the east of the Freightway site as well as the 0.49 acre Scarsdale Avenue parking lot on the other side of the tracks.

Quoting from a document titled An Update of the Village Center Component of the Village of Scarsdale Comprehensive Plan, "The Freightway lot is an unsightly parking lot that detracts from Scarsdale's historic character. The appearance and possible redevelopment of the Freightway lot have been debated for years." (Update at page 42) The Update Plan is dated August 10, 2010 and was the product of more than two years of work. It is available on the Village web site.

The Land Use Committee meeting was prompted in part by the fact that in the last ten years or so, and looking into the near future, the Freightway garage structure has required, and likely will require, maintenance and repairs that in the aggregate run into millions of dollars. The 2010 Update Plan referred to includes suggestions for possible development of the Freightway lot which obviously did not go forward. The thought at last week's meeting was to re-start the analytic process with respect to the site.

The Village is seeking competitive proposals from qualified planning firms, one of which would be retained by the Village, with experience in successfully navigating complex community and site dynamics to achieve, through thoughtful, meaningful public engagement, realistic goals and objectives for the redevelopment of the Freightway site. The intent is to provide clear, community-based guidance which a developer can translate into a pleasing, economically viable project to enhance the Village Center and meet local needs. The Village intends to establish a Steering Committee consisting of stakeholders such as residents, business and property owners, representatives from neighborhood associations, land use board members, commuters and other users. The charge for the Steering Committee will be to create realistic goals and objectives for the redevelopment of the site, providing the basis for a Request for Proposals/Request for Interest in order to solicit proposals from the development community. What may ultimately be done on the site cannot now be predicted, however, with thoughtful planning and stakeholder engagement it could be transformed into an asset for the Village center and the community at large. Time and a great deal of hard work by many folks will tell.

Organizational Assessment of the Assessor's Department: One item on tonight's agenda is a resolution to retain a firm, Management Partners, Inc., to make an organizational assessment of the Assessor's Department. Such a project has been mentioned in very general terms at prior Board meetings and the Village staff has been working over the past several months to search out and vet consulting firms that have the expertise to conduct such a review at a reasonable cost. The scope of the services to be provided would include a thorough review of the Assessor's Department structure, staffing policies, workflow processes, revaluation methodologies and use of technology. The review would include interviews with Village management, employees in the Assessor's Department, other department heads and customers interacting with the Assessor's Department, the Westchester County Tax Commissioner, the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services and personnel in other Westchester municipalities that have completed revaluation projects. The goal of this project would be to produce actionable recommendations that would provide a clear roadmap forward thus helping to restore and maintain public confidence in the Assessor's Department and its functions. It is estimated that the project, once commenced, would take three to four months to complete. The consultant has proposed a fee of $34,990 for its work.

The background of the search and vetting process is set out in the Board materials which are publicly available. It will be my recommendation to my fellow Board members that this agenda item be referred to a meeting of the Board as a Committee of the Whole on February 28, 2017, prior to our regular Board meeting on that date. We will invite a representative of Management Partners to attend the meeting to answer Board questions, as well as questions from residents who attend the meeting. We can discuss this suggestion further when we get to that item on tonight's agenda.

2017-2018 Proposed Budget: The Village Staff and Village Board have been working on the 2017-2018 budget for several months. As has been the case since June 2011, one of the myriad questions that has to be addressed is whether or not to aim to keep the budget within the so-called 2% tax "cap" set forth in NY State law that applies to increases in real property tax levies. "So-called" because the "cap" is actually 2% or the rate of inflation plus a "growth factor" as defined in the law, whichever is less. Thus, for example, last year the "cap" as calculated under the law was 0.45%, a percentage that would have allowed a year-to-year increase in spending of $168,840 – far less than 2% -- and an immaterial amount in the context of an approximately $55 million budget. Last year's budget exceeded the "cap." For 2017-2018, the "cap" is 1.37%, a percentage that would allow a year-to year spending increase of $516,436. Clearly a larger amount than last year, but still a relatively low number. Staying within the "cap" is made especially challenging since there are significant budget expenses that are mandated by unfunded state programs – mainly health insurance and related benefits that are overseen by New York State which are not subject to Village control. Other salary-related increases are governed by multi-year contracts with the unions representing certain municipal employees. The cap can be overridden by municipal governments by a vote of 60% or more of its governing board. This differs from the rule as applied to School Districts which can adopt budgets in excess of the "cap" only if the School District budget is approved by a vote of 60% or more of the voters voting on the school budget. One other note: the rules for how compliance with the "cap" is calculated are different for the Village and the School District. Under the tax "cap" legislation, the School District is permitted to exclude the cost of debt service and capital expenses in calculating its compliance; the Village is not permitted to make such exclusions. If the rules were different and the Village was permitted to calculate "cap" compliance in the way the School District is permitted to, approximately $3,700,000 of aggregate debt service and capital expenses in the 2017-2018 proposed budget would be excluded from the calculation and would result in a Village budget that was well under the "cap." In short, a comparison of Village and School District "cap" compliance is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

The tax "cap" Village budget analysis is therefore a relatively simple one to summarize: on the one hand, a decision to stay within the "cap" could be effectuated by eliminating certain services or deferral of capital expenditures with the resultant decrease in budget allocations to a point below the "cap." On the other hand, maintain services and incur the most pressing capital expenses and risk exceeding the "cap." Since the tax "cap" legislation went into effect in 2011, Village Boards have adopted budgets that maintain services, made the most needed capital expenditures and have exceeded the "cap" with one exception. The 2015-2016 budget was kept within the "cap" by making a larger than usual transfer from the General Fund so that certain residents could receive a tax rebate under a New York State program that is no longer in effect.

Tonight's agenda includes a vote to adopt a local law to authorize adoption of a 2017-2018 budget that would exceed the "cap". This vote is taken to provide flexibility to exceed the cap and not for the purpose of simply performing a less than rigorous budget process. Should such flexibility not be provided, and a budget that was intended to stay within the "cap", in fact exceed it – even if such excess was due to a mathematical error in calculating the "cap" amount – operations would have to be conducted pursuant to the prior year's budget even if that meant some services would have to be reduced or eliminated, or planned capital projects would have to be deferred. In short, it would nice to simply say the budget will stay within the "cap", but like so many things, the detailed analysis and the line-by-line decisions that would meet that goal are complex and require the balancing of the desire for certain levels of service reasonably expected by residents against fiscal constraints. The discussion of the proposed budget will continue over the next several months and among other things public presentations on the operating budget and the capital budget scheduled for 7:00 pm on March 2 and March 8, 2017, respectively, will be televised and recorded. Interested residents are urged to tune in. Note also that because of the way the fiscal calendar works, adoption of the 2017-2018 proposed budget being focused on by this Board will, in fact, be an agenda item for the next Board.

Emails relating to the Village-wide Revaluations: Some of the focus of dissatisfaction arising from the 2016 Village-wide revaluation has been with respect to FOIL requests for emails that related to that process and the prior Village-wide revaluation. In particular, we have heard repeated requests to release some 2,400 emails that were not produced since upon review by the Village attorney, it was concluded that they fell within certain categories of documents not required to be produced under FOIL. An appeal of the decision not to release those emails has been made to the Village Manager and as a result those emails are being re-examined. A decision on the appeal is expected on or prior to February 28, 2017.

What has been left out of this particular discussion is that in response to FOIL requests relating to the 2016 Village-wide revaluation approximately 30,000 emails were in fact produced. This production was the result of approximately 995 hours of Village staff time taken to review the emails called out by the FOIL request. This equates to the work a full time employee for a period of six months. There is no debate about the fact that those who made the FOIL requests were fully entitled to make them. However, to ignore the hard work put in by the Village staff in processing this large volume of material does a disservice to the effort they made to respond. The FOIL process is one part of the framework under which municipal governments operate and the Village fully intends to comply with its obligations under that law and within the parameters it provides.

Math and Science Students Excel at Weekend Competitions Plus More News from the Scarsdale Schools

mathcountsThis past weekend students from the SHS science research program participated in the Westchester - Rockland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. JSHS is designed to challenge and engage students (Grades 9-12) in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Individual students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research efforts before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers.

Scarsdale had a number of students place, with three students in the speaker category of which two of them will move on to the statewide competition.

1st place in Neuro-Biology - Lauren Singer
1st place in Chemistry - Annling Wang
5th place in Environmental- Karen Zaklama

In the Poster Category:
2nd place Medicine and Health: Dan Beitler
1st place Neuroscience: Sabeen Kahn
1st place Behavior: Dexin Li

Dexin also won first place overall for her Poster

SMS Mathcouts:

The Scarsdale Middle School Mathcounts team finished second in a competition on Saturday February 4 at Pace University out of a pool of 16 teams. The team now qualifies for the state competition at RPI on March 18.

The following made up the 4-person team.
Curtis Chang C8

Ethan Gu P8
Michael Wei F7
Mathew Zhao B6

The following students competed as individuals.
Vivian Guo P8
Amy Hu C8
Sameer Kini B6
Sara Oba C7
Hannah Wang P6relayteam2

SHS Swim Team:

The Scarsdale High School Boys swim team competed in the Section 1 Swim Championships Wednesday 2/8/17 at Felix Festa Middle School in Clarkstown. They finished in 3rd place and for the first time in school history and they qualified all 3 relays ( 200 yard medley, 200 yard Freestyle, 400 yard Freestyle ) for the New York State Swim Championships that will be held in Long Island March 3 - 4. The boys that qualified for the State Championships are: Sr. Tanner McFarland, Sr. Liam McPhillips, Jr. Jack Callahan, Jr. Ryan Lee, Jr. Haofeng Liu, So. and Aidan Wilson.


SHS hosted their annual cheerleading tournament in the gym on Saturday February 4th. Take a look at these photos from Jon Thaler and see more here:

cheertournamentcheerkinghtscheer westlake

SHS Hockey

The Scarsdale High School hockey team triumphed over Iona Prep 4-1 on Feburary 8.  See photos by Jon Thaler below and buy more here.


Scarsdalians March on Washington

roadtripMany locals and former Scarsdale residents made the trip to Washington DC to participate in the March on Saturday January 21. They found the experience and the signs uplifting.

Here are comments and photos from some of your neighbors:

Michelle Lichtenberg
The January 21st March on Washington was an amazing uplifting experience. To call it a "March" is a bit of a misnomer since the turnout so far exceeded expectations, you could barely move. Occasionally you would hear someone ask if they could please squeeze by because they were claustrophobic and had to get out of the tight spaces. Despite the press on humanity, the atmosphere was of high spirits, rambunctiousness, playful, with an appreciation of differences and a PEACEFUL protest. People coming from all over the nation, including Alaska, old and young, many in wheelchairs or with canes, nothing was keeping them away. The variety of hand made placards was very entertaining and offered many opportunities for conversation with the new friends with whom you were sharing your little bit of turf. This is what Democracy looks like!

bkBK Munguia marched with her daughter Ramona Mark:
"It was an amazing day and I was so happy to share it with my daughter, friends, and complete strangers. Many clever signs and chants but the one that resonated the most with me was "This is what America looks like" and the men, women and children who stood with me were of all persuasions and they were beautiful. And this is what democracy looks like as well."

Stacey Brodsky
Participating in the D.C. march with my husband David was the most uplifting experience I have had since Election Day. I have never been in a crowd of people as enormous and far reaching in every direction. At times the press of bodies was denser than a packed subway car even though we were outside, in what would normally be wide open space, and still we did not have a thread of daylight between each other.

During the pre-march rally, David and I never were close enough to a loud speaker or Jumbotron to hear or see anything happening but that seemed completely unimportant. I was overwhelmingly struck by how powerful it felt just to be part of the extraordinary numbers of people who showed up on this extraordinary day. The signs were funny and smart critiques, the chants were energizing, and the spontaneous roars of sound were electrifying and cathartic.stacey

My sense of gloom and despair since the election has been profoundly altered by standing with the ocean of our fellow Americans who share similar feelings and who all acted with great kindness and respect toward each other. Now we have to find some way to direct and harness all this intense concern and sense of collective purpose and find a path forward. I don't want this wonderful march to turn into a dead end.


Boys Raiders Basketball Team is 12-4 for the Season

bball1After handily defeating Harrison on Monday January 30 by 25 points, the Scarsdale High School varsity men's basketball team is having a stellar season at 12-4 so far. Led by senior captains Josh Wasserman and Max Bosco, the team has practiced hard and worked together to be competitors in the section. Wasserman attributes their success to the great chemistry the team has, and said, "all of the guys on the team are really close both on and off the court and this has helped tremendously throughout the season. We are all confident that our teammates will make the right play and trust each other completely." The team's chemistry shows when the bench cheers enthusiastically at every layup or three-point shot made and loudly echoes calls from head coach Bill Murphy to ensure everybody is on the same page. Despite the success that the team has had so far, not everybody expected such a strong performance before the season started, given the changing roster. As senior Bradley Tatz says, "The season has really been an amazing experience. No one expected carroll2us to be 12-4 this year losing so many starters after last year, but a ton of guys have stepped up and we really feel like we can make a run if we keep playing the way we have been." The Raiders should be competitive enough to compete for the section championship, and hope to continue exceeding even their own expectations.

Photos and text by Alec Carroll.


Twins, Triplets and College Decisions

torresThe college admissions process is stressful for everyone, but it can bring new layers of tension to familial relationships for twins, triplets, and other multiples.

Some twins can't imagine being separated; they have gone through everything in life together and want to continue to do so. For these twins, conflict can arise when they try to agree on a single school. Other twins view college as an opportunity to finally be seen as individuals, rather than part of a pair. For them, conflict can arise if there is overlapping interest in certain schools. After all, having been raised in the same environment, and having similar DNA, can often result in twins being attracted to the same types of colleges.

My sister Louisa and I are the latter kind of twins. blattAlthough we are very close, there was no question that we wanted to attend different colleges. Louisa and I participate in many of the same activities such as Speech & Debate and various singing groups. We like doing the same things, but we dislike being compared to or competing with each other. When one of us does better at a Speech tournament, or gets into a musical group that the other doesn't, it stings. We want to be treated the same as any other two students in our class. We try our best not to share our grades and test scores, but living in the same house we often can't help but overhear things that automatically cause us to compare ourselves. Socially, being a twin also brings added layers of stress. Louisa and I have many of the same friends, but naturally some of our friends are closer with her while others are closer with me. This can lead to awkward situations when certain friends want to plan activities with only one of us. Overall, socially, academically, and competitively we want to avoid the tension in college that being a twin can bring.

We also wanted to be treated as individuals in the admissions process. Neither of us wanted to be rejected, or even accepted to a school because of our sister's accomplishments or lack thereof. Additionally, we have spent our entire lives together, and we know that even if we went to the same college, chances are we would not live together after college. So we decided that we wanted our first experience living apart to be in the nurturing environment of a small college, rather than being thrust into the "real world" where we would suddenly learn how to live without each other. However, we were both interested in small, suburban and rural liberal arts schools in the Northeast. Certain schools that we visited only appealed to one of us. For example, Louisa was interested in women's colleges, and I was not. However, we went on almost every college tour together, and thus visited more than 30 schools in total. Since we knew we did not want to go to the same place, it was difficult to admit when we both really liked one school. There was one school that we were both interested in possibly applying early decision to, up until September. Neither of us ended up deciding to apply E.D. there, because we were more taken with other schools when we went back to revisit a few of our favorites.

schottFortunately, we both got into our top choice schools, where we applied Early Decision. I will be attending Hamilton College and Louisa will be attending Smith College. We know it will be difficult to adjust to living apart; after all we have never spent more than a few days in our life away from each other, but we know we will still talk every day. We are confident that we made the right decision for us. Louisa and I would advise twins who want to attend different colleges to be honest and open with each other about your opinions on various schools, it's better to say what you feel now and get into an argument, than to regret not speaking up about something and end up at a school where you didn't want to go, just because you were trying to protect your twin's feelings. I would also advise twins beginning the college admissions process to individually discuss your concerns with your high school deans. It can be quite refreshing to get an opinion from someone outside of your family.

sharlachIn terms of policies on accepting twins, surprisingly few colleges have them. Most schools treat twins on a case by case basis. For example, if a pair of twins have radically different grades, test scores, and participation in extracurricular activities, most schools will be inclined to treat them as individuals, and may have to reject one and accept the other. But if a pair of twins have similar records, colleges will typically be inclined to reject or accept them both. A 2008 New York Times Article titled "Is There a Better Half?" quotes William R. Fitzsimmons, the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Harvard, "One of the great urban legends is that we have quotas for a particular school or state, such that with twins or triplets we might accept one but not the other. If truly the candidates are equally qualified, the decision would be the same for both." An article in Psychology Today notes that some schools, such as the University of Maryland, the University of Texas, Rice University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, consider twins individually. Duke University is one school that asks applicants if they are twins or triplets, and if so, whether their siblings are also applying. Some of this is for logistical reasons, such as preventing one twin's application from being placed in another twin's file, which can happen because of similar names and email addresses. Duke also wants to prevent a minor difference in applications that might cause one of two unrelated students to be rejected, from causing one of two twins to be rejected.

Financially, sending twins and other multiples to college chasecan put an immense stress on a family. Fortunately, the federal financial aid formula used by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) favors families where multiple children are enrolled in college at the same time. And the CSS/Financial Aid Profile form also reduces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) when there are two or more children enrolled in college simultaneously.

There is no one way that twins and triplets experience the college admissions process, something that is evident when hearing from several sets of twins who are current seniors or alumni of Scarsdale High School.

The initial question of "Should we go to the same college?" is not black and white. For some twins it is clear that they must either separate or stay together. Gabi Schott SHS '17 described the experience of her and her twin brother Raf: "I don't think going to the same school was ever an option, because as much as I loved having a twin throughout high school, I wanted to go my own way and have my own experiences. And I know he did too." Gabi will be attending Cornell University, and Raf will be attending Colgate University.

habersCurrent freshman in college and SHS '16 triplets Rachel, Abby, and Naomi Haber also knew they would separate because of their varying academic interests. Abby stated, "It would have been difficult if not impossible to find a school that accommodated all of our interests and passions. Therefore, we each chose schools that have offerings in our unique areas of interest." Abby is studying comparative literature and international relations at Brown University, Rachel goes to the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt and is double majoring in viola performance and cognitive studies, and Naomi attends the Agriculture school at Cornell, studying environmental sciences on a pre-vet track.

On the other side, Pammy and Cammy Sharlach SHS '17 knew that staying together was essential for them: "Even when we were little we knew we wanted to go to college together. We want to go together because only seeing each other on breaks was not enough for us", they said. Pammy and Cammy will start at Binghamton University in the fall.

Although the choice is clear to some twins, for others the question of going to the same school or not is not a major factor in deciding where to apply. Christina Siekierski SHS '17 explains about her and her sister Carolina, "Choosing our top choice was not a joint decision. After lots of visits and research, we just both happened to have the same top choice. I think it's because we grew up sharing so many things and the things we like and value just happen to be similar." Christina and Carolina will attend Colgate University in the fall.

Emily and Marc Chase SHS '17 agree, "We didn't purposely choose different schools, it just worked out that way." Emily will be attending Cornell University, and Marc has been accepted to several schools but does not yet know where he will be next year.

Some twins may experience conflict knowing that they want to separate or stay together, but struggling to either agree on a school, or select different schools. Carine and Colette Torres, SHS '14 and Duke University '18, experienced this. Carine said, "We actually intended on going to different schools, as we were definitely seeking to diverge; however, come May 1st, it ended up that we both independently decided on Duke." Colette added, "I, in fact, came very close to choosing another school that I had been deciding between with Duke, (for other reasons, too, but one of them being) to intentionally go to a different one." Colette and Carine are both studying computer science.

siekierskiThe Siekierski twins and the Sharlach twins will both be attending the same colleges, but have differing opinions on how they wanted their applications to be viewed. Christina Siekierski said, and Carolina agreed, "I think it is very important the college applications be looked at individually. Just because a person is born a twin, doesn't mean that should be defined by that. Each individual has different interests, accomplishments, and passions that should be evaluated individually." Pammy and Cammy Sharlach had the opposing viewpoint and said, "Although we are both individual people we prefer the both or none policy."

Each set of twins and triplets going through the college admissions process, experiences hardships unique to their situations. Gabi Schott said that one of the most challenging things about the process is the added pressure of parents saying, "Well Raf did this many essays, so how come you didn't." Carolina Siekierski mentioned, "It's annoying constantly being questioned, even by complete strangers. Do you wanna go to the same school? Are you gonna room together? What if one gets in and the other doesn't?"

One source of conflict that the Haber triplets encountered was the added stress of early decision admissions. Naomi Haber discussed the difficult experience of not being admitted to her early decision school, while her sisters were. Naomi said, "Throughout my childhood I had always struggled with being compared to my sisters: academically, athletically, socially, artistically, etc. When my sisters were both accepted early, I felt as though I had lost a race. This unhealthy and unproductive mindset was undeniably distorted. However, it also pushed me to become a better version of myself."

Naomi also recalled an unfortunate memory, "I was walking to homeroom one day when a girl in the grade below approached me. She congratulated me on my sisters' acceptances and said in a pitiful voice, 'Oh, but you were not accepted, right? Well, that must suck.' She then proceeded to say something along the lines of, 'Wow! They are very smart. Meanwhile, you have not gotten in anywhere.' I felt inferior as though I had somehow failed," continued Naomi. Her sister Rachel said of the situation, "I would have traded places with her in an instant."

Naomi reflected that her deferral (She was eventually accepted to her Early Decision school.) became a positive because, while she did not apply E.D. to Cornell, her deferral led her to pay more attention to Cornell, her eventual selection. She said, "By the time I was ultimately accepted into my early decision application school, I had realized that Cornell was a better fit for me. Because I was accepted there as an R.D. applicant, by contract I was no longer bound to the rules of E.D."

While clearly being a multiple brings added challenges to the admissions process for many, it doesn't have to for all twins. Marc and Emily Chase said they didn't experience many added difficulties: "Being twins really didn't affect the process for us. We acted as separate entities," said Marc and Emily.

There are also unique struggles and benefits of being a multiple once you begin college. Colette Torres discussed the worst parts of attending the same college as her twin sister: "It's the perpetual inescapable feeling that you can't be your own person. I think it's often hard for people to grasp that we want to have separate identities because there are a lot of assumptions made just from the fact that we go to the same school and have chosen the same major and lead very parallel lives in college." Carine added, "It's also frustrating that if we make the same decision, for example, we often choose the same electives for our major, it's not that we've made that decision together, but inevitably, there is often a 'smartest' or 'best' decision."

Abby Haber discussed the difficulty of being away from her sisters: "It's harder, and not as satisfying, to call or Skype them rather than walk ten feet to their bedroom. It is hard not to have Rachel and Naomi as consistently with me anymore because their company, advice, humor, and friendship have always (and continue to) mean so much to me." Rachel added, "When I first got to Vanderbilt, I had a really hard time adjusting to the fact I wasn't living with my sisters. I was used to them always being there when I got home, talking to them casually about what happened that day or just seeing them for a bit. It was really weird not having that initially, but I have made some amazing friends here that certainly haven't replaced them, but have helped me adjust. I know that all three of us will be close no matter what." The Haber triplets see each other approximately every three months.

The Torres twins reflected on some of the best parts of attending the same college. Colette Torres said, "In the beginning, it was super helpful because as a freshman, it often feels like no one can understand exactly what you're going through, but we were living through the same thing." Colette and Carine often wonder about what going to different schools would be like, and sometimes even wish they had more separate experiences, but are ultimately happy with their decision. Carine explained, "I definitely wish we had the experience of being in different schools; however, I don't regret going to Duke at all and if it means we had to go to the same school for me to get the experience I've had at Duke (and I think she feels the same way), I don't wish I had picked a different school."

The Haber triplets agree that independence is the best aspect of their lives at different colleges. Naomi said, "The best part about going to different schools is that it provides me with a greater sense of freedom which was difficult to achieve, as another 'Haber triplet,' throughout my childhood. I am seen as an individual, without comparison."

Many of the twins I spoke with had advice for other twins going through the college admissions process. Gabi Schott advises, "Help each other because you have the unique experience of going through this with someone else!" Carine Torres said, "Don't focus on being X's twin. Just focus on whatever you need to do for yourself exclusive of that fact." Pammy and Cammy Sharlach said, "Don't make it a competition. Be supportive of each other throughout the process." They added, "Another piece of advice is don't room with each other. It's good to branch out and meet different people and give yourselves a little space." The Torres twins agree that rooming together at the same college isn't a great idea. Emily and Marc Chase advise, "Support each other throughout the process but don't get so caught up in the other person's business and feelings."

Overall, the process is different for each set of twins, so if you are twins beginning the college search, do whatever you need to do to make the process the least stressful it can be. Moreover, if you are not a twin, understand when discussing the college admissions process with people who are twins, that just because people share DNA, they are individual people.