Forum: Selection product of student efforts

Housing selection is upon us and no doubt there will be some nail-biting and anxious residents on Sunday, the first day of housing selection. When juniors and seniors hear the words “housing selection,” some may recall the process in 1999, which lasted over 12 hours on one day.

Housing selection 2000 was split into two days, but there were still problems that arose and numerous discontented campus residents. This year, two radical changes have been made to make housing selection more bearable.

Lease signing will be required and rising sophomores will select their rooms before juniors and seniors–an unprecedented event that may change the way on-campus housing is assigned in the years to come. Here is an explanation for these sweeping changes, and some insight from those who worked on the adjustments.

In October, a handful of students from the Residence Hall Association began meeting weekly to discuss housing selection. Representatives from each class voiced their concerns about the campus plan and past housing selections, as well as ways to amend the process for this year. What has come of these weekly meetings is a student-written selection process aimed at pleasing the most students with the least hassle.

In addition to a radically changed process, new buildings have been added in an effort to accommodate the increasing number of on-campus residents. The University has even provided some rooms in Columbia Plaza as a more independent housing option for juniors and seniors going through housing selection.

There were several items from past years that were immediately identified as problems and targeted for this year. First, too many students chose rooms at housing selection and then dropped out of the system. Changing the mentality that students could use University housing as a “safety net” was a main goal of the group. By changing housing selection to be slightly later in the year and requiring students to sign license agreements, students must now fully commit to campus housing or choose to live off-campus.

The lease signing also prevents juniors and seniors from pulling in underclassmen and subsequently dropping out of the system. This allows the Community Living and Learning Center to have a more accurate number of returning students earlier and ultimately let those on the guaranteed waiting list know where they are living sooner than was the case in the past.

A final motivation for the change in housing selection process was in response to the recently approved campus plan. Under the campus plan, the University has agreed to house all freshmen and sophomores on campus. In an effort to make this transition smoother in the future, rising sophomores will choose first in housing selection this year.

If this year’s process had not called for rising sophomores to choose first, an even more dramatic change next year would have to be implemented. This process will hopefully alleviate any distress rising sophomores have about getting a room on campus.

Finally, it is important to realize that the University has made an effort to listen to the concerns that on-campus residents have regarding housing selection. The outcome of hours of collaboration between students and members of the administration will be tested Sunday when sophomores choose rooms and on March 31 when rising seniors and juniors select their housing for next year.

Whether you are sitting in J Street or watching from home, remember great effort has been expended to make this process better for 2001. The changes above as well as some new alterations in the logistics of the actual event will hopefully help GW students navigate housing selection with ease.

-The writers are Residence Hall Association president and chairman of the RHA Housing Selection Committee.

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