Forum: System leaves juniors jaded, homeless

The new housing lottery plan formulated by the Residence Hall Association and the Community Living and Learning Center, or “housing selection” as it is now being called, leaves most juniors hopelessly scrambling for housing. With the new program initiated this year, rising juniors and seniors pick last, after rising sophomores. Certain halls are reserved for rising sophomores, while the remaining rooms are reserved for rising juniors and seniors.

Obviously the class of 2003, yet again, gets the short end of the stick. After having to sit back and watch sophomores pick rooms in usually upperclassman residence halls, such as Munson Hall, they must also sit back and watch the traditionally senior halls of New Hall, Guthridge and JBKO be taken by the seniors who pick first on March 30.

That leaves the rising juniors with the option of moving into either Columbia Plaza’s unfurnished apartments, the remaining rooms in The West End, 2109 F Street or the Mount Vernon Campus. Many rising juniors are not thrilled about having to move into Columbia Plaza, with unfurnished rooms, no Ethernet connection and classification as off-campus housing.

And these remaining rooms may not even be available to juniors. They may all be swept up before most junior numbers are called. Mount Vernon is also an option, but the campus is disconnected from the rest of the city and Foggy Bottom. The uncertainty of on-campus housing for next year’s juniors is nerve-racking, annoying and disenfranchising to say the least.

In last year’s lottery, the class of 2003, as rising sophomores, was again dealt the short end of the stick. Many students were placed on the guaranteed waiting list, losing any hope of living with roommates of their choice. I was lucky enough – or unlucky enough with a number somewhere near 2,500 – to choose one of the last rooms in Crawford Hall, the smallest residence hall on campus. That left people with numbers as high as 3,300-3,400 on the guaranteed waiting list. This was not only disenfranchising, but also annoying, as many students waited the entire summer before they received a room.

The guaranteed waiting list is always a possibility, but this almost always means you will not be rooming with the people you prefer to live with. It means a new roommate – someone you probably have never met before and are unsure if you will get along with. The people you would have liked to live with are your friends, people with whom you know you can get along and live comfortably.

This new housing selection plan is a blatant attempt to force juniors into off-campus housing. I agree with providing enough housing for rising sophomores who may not be ready to move off campus or who prefer to stay on campus. I also agree with allowing seniors, who have earned their right to the nicest dorms on campus by virtue of being return customers, to choose rooms in New Hall, Guthridge and JBKO first. But this hangs rising juniors out to dry.

The rooms provided will most likely all be filled before all of the junior numbers are called on lottery day. The new plan also makes it impossible to use a friend’s higher number, since leases have to be signed immediately on lottery day. Because of this, juniors are left with the dilemma of choosing to be placed on the guaranteed waiting list, which is a major hassle in itself, or looking for the least expensive option off campus.

The University and the housing program should have considered this before building more academic space and other buildings. They obviously neglected the need for more student housing. No student should be hung out to dry when it comes to housing, and students should not be forced to work through an endless maze of red tape just to obtain a room on campus.

-The writer is president-elect of the GW College Democrats.

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