Transfer students search for housing

Although most transfer students were offered on campus housing this year, some that did not said they are having a hard time finding a place to stay.

Sara McPherson, a sophomore transfer student, said she has to stay with a family friend in Maryland until she can find an apartment closer to campus. McPherson, who transferred to GW from the University of Colorado this year, said she was unfamiliar with the area and where to find housing when she arrived on campus.

McPherson said she thinks the University needs to provide better information about off-campus housing options for transfer students who are not familiar with the District.

I went to the off-campus housing Web site, but most of the information was from 1998, McPherson said.

Andrew Sonn, associate director of Housing Services, said he understands the problems that transfer students face searching for housing. But he said GW offers many resources to help students find off-campus housing. The Columbia Plaza Program allows students to live in Columbia Plaza, but pay their rent to GW, Sonn said. This allows them to live in Columbia Plaza at a lower cost, he said.

We understand that the real estate market was tight this year, but we are trying to accommodate everyone as best as possible with the number of beds we have to be filled, Sonn said. On-campus housing is not guaranteed for transfer students, but it is for freshmen, so freshmen are our priority.

GW offered housing to 75 percent of the 138 transfer students who requested it, Sonn said.

Although transfer students may receive housing, they are ultimately placed on a non-guaranteed waiting list that offers them housing after freshmen and returning students.

Sophomore Clint Mann, who transferred to GW this fall, received his assignment a week before coming to GW.

They told me that they could almost guarantee me housing if I sent in my application in right away, because they had a lot open, Mann said.

Mann said he initially sent his application in June and called once a week for two months.

It wasn’t until my mom called and was quite loud and outspoken that they actually called me back, said Mann.

One day after his mother called Housing Services, Mann said he received his assignment.

I think I got lucky, I know a lot of people that didn’t get anything, Mann said.

McPherson said she also was unhappy with the University’s response time.

The main problem is timing, McPherson said, I didn’t hear anything until one week before classes. All I was told, via e-mail, was that the University couldn’t guarantee housing and I could be put on a wait list, but there was little chance of getting housing.

Sonn said the University often gives short notice because students drop out at the last minute or don’t show up at all. This occurrence makes it hard to know where there is room until closer to the school year.

Transfer students sometimes get housing on campus if other students decide to not live on campus after the first few weeks of school.

McPherson said she needs housing close to campus just as much as any other student. Being far away from campus has left McPherson feeling secluded from campus activities and has made it harder to get involved.

I have to wake up at 6 o’clock so I can make my 8 o’clock classes, and then I can never fully get into campus activities because I always have to worry about what time the last Metro will come to take me home, McPherson said.

Sonn said timing and communication between the University and students could improve students’ housing situation.

If there were ways to put students in contact with deans sooner, then we could house people in unoccupied beds, but sometimes we don’t find out about no-shows until the first day of class, Sonn said. We understand that students want to be settled as soon as possible, but if we don’t know that a bed will be empty, we can’t put anyone else in it.
-Jason Steinhardt contributed to this report

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