Rising juniors learned a hard lesson Saturday when only 10 junior numbers were called in the housing lottery. Once again, overcrowding has inconvenienced GW students. The problem is simple: the University admitted and continues to enroll too many students. The housing selection system cracked under the strain, and rising juniors – and a number of future sophomores – are left with hard choices about where to live next year.
The housing crunch at GW has dire consequences for the University, its students and the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. Already-strained relations between GW and its neighbors will only get worse as students looking for housing flood the local real estate market. Add to that the problems which come from many rising juniors and their parents feeling dissatisfied with the treatment they received. Unhappy students and unhappy parents do not make for a healthy bottom line. Today’s dissatisfied students are tomorrow’s disinterested alumni.
Other problems loom due to the system devised by the Community Living and Learning Center and the Residence Hall Association. In the past, the problem of too many students seeking too few rooms was often satisfied through the attrition of upperclassmen dropping out of the housing system after selecting a room. Now that CLLC requires students to sign leases when they choose rooms, the likelihood of future residents taking the risk of being held to those agreements should they move off campus after selecting a room – a very expensive implication – is very low. Since the new system eliminated natural attrition, the University will need to find more beds, an unpopular prospect with D.C. officials. In light of this fact and recent events, reserving Francis Scott Key Hall for graduate students appears to have been a mistake.
Attention is focused on the breakdown of the housing lottery and the 400 rising juniors who remain roomless. The real reason for this problem, though, is not a failure of the system but too many students and too little space. CLLC is suffering for mistakes made by top administrators and the trustees who set admissions policies. But the solution, like the problem, is simple: follow the campus plan, and stop admitting so many students until GW is prepared to accommodate them with adequate housing and classroom space.