The misery of the housing lottery

After Colonial Inauguration last year, I determined that the single most frustrating experience of my life was telephone registration for classes. I was at the fifth CI and spent about three hours on the phone only to hear that scary, horrifyingly frightening woman tell me that the classes I wanted were closed. Later, the mere thought of it made my heart pound and my palms sweat. I thought I’d seen the worst.

The worst of GW? Never.

Though phone registration is rough, in my humble opinion, the housing lottery gives it a run for its money. It is over by the time you are reading this. So who knows? Maybe everything went smoothly and no one is unhappy. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

Why do people go through so much trouble just to live in the residence halls? Keep in mind, I live on campus, so I’m allowed to say this. I know sometimes people can lose their financial aid and it’s true that being completely surrounded by other students creates a certain atmosphere.

But most people I know actually pay less to live off campus, and God knows, living with other students usually means getting no work done. Our residence halls are nicer than other schools but they are not palaces.

With up to six people living in one room, Thurston Hall is a little strange. It’s a wonder we didn’t all go crazy. Or did we? The most amazing thing about freshman year is that we’re put in a room with people we don’t know. When you think about it, it is incredible that more people don’t die. Most of us had our own rooms growing up and then suddenly we are forced to live with (in my case) three people we’ve never met.

And GW students don’t have a reputation for being nice people. So you put a bunch of spoiled people together in incredibly close living conditions. It is a success that the casualty list is as small as it is. The most obvious side effect is the amount of pent-up emotion on campus.

How many times have you been walking with someone who whispers, “we just passed my roommate from freshman year. I hate him/her”? But aside from the obvious drawbacks, we all know that living in the residence halls freshman year is logical. It’s a great place to make friends. But I just don’t get why we stay.

What I truly don’t understand is the people who pay $2,000 for the top lottery number. Does that make sense? Couldn’t you get a pretty nice apartment for that money? I guess it is pretty much just a pride thing. That has to be a good feeling, having the first choice of all the rooms on campus. I’m pretty much pre-destined to always get the lowest number possible, and that certainly doesn’t do anything for my pride.(I don’t believe for a minute that they do that randomly. I couldn’t be that unlucky.)

But despite the temptation to bid for a better number, I’m not going to pay $2,000 to make myself feel good. I lose my pride too fast anyway.

So, if you decide to live on campus, and you don’t have $2,000 or the like to throw around, that means you have to go to the housing lottery. I was pulled in by an upperclassman so I missed all the turmoil last year, but you could feel the tension in the room.

They are calling out that residence halls are closed, and people are realizing that they aren’t going to get into New Hall. Some people love it, most people are crying. It’s worse than Titanic.

When it is all over, three-fourths of the rising sophomore class is without housing. I guess like many things about college, this gets easier as we get older. That’s what I’m afraid of, though. By the time I get used to college, by the time I get the hang of it, it’ll be time to graduate.

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