Members of the class of 2003 said they are uncertain where and with whom they will live next year after 40 percent of sophomores who wanted on-campus housing left the lottery without a room last weekend.
Director of Housing Services Andy Sonn declined repeated requests to release the total number of students on the guaranteed waiting list as of Sunday. Students were given until Friday to receive a refund of their $300 housing deposit and join the list, which guarantees housing on the Foggy Bottom campus.
Last year 244 students – all from the class of 2003 – joined the guaranteed waiting list. This year 84 rising sophomores joined the list on selction day, along with more than 100 members of the class of 2003, according to Housing Services numbers.
“It’s ridiculous,” said sophomore Tom O’Brien, who held number 1,881 and chose to be placed on the guaranteed waiting list after only 10 numbers were called in last weekend’s selection. “I have to live with someone I don’t know in a place that I didn’t choose.”
“Last year I got stuck in Crawford and I thought that was bad,” sophomore Sara Leib said. “This year I have no idea where I’m going to live, and Housing Services has been totally unresponsive to my questions.”
Sonn said Thursday the Community Living and Learning Center is doing everything it can to find housing for the rest of the rising juniors.
“We don’t want these housing issues to detract from education,” he said.
Sonn said the 100 students who signed up with GW to get a room in Columbia Plaza will receive apartments. He said GW will also take over more rooms in the 2109 F St. apartment complex, a new housing selection option. Sonn said he expects 30 to 40 rooms that were not offered in the housing selection to open up to waitlisted students as graduate students move out of the building.
As of Thursday, 100 on-campus housing spaces remained available at the Mount Vernon campus and in Strong Hall, according to a letter Housing Services sent to students.
Women can select singles and doubles in female-only Strong, while both female and male students can choose rooms at Mount Vernon, which will be coed next year. Sonn said more Columbia Plaza spaces are also available. Columbia Plaza apartments come unfurnished and do not offer ethernet connections.
Students may receive a $150 refund if they drop off guaranteed waiting list by April 20, according to the Housing Services letter.
Sonn said students are usually hesitant to drop out of the housing system because it is difficult to get back into the housing system. He said students will be able to return to campus housing if they plan ahead next year.
“We have a lot of vacancies in the spring,” he explained. “Off-campus students can come back in January if they let us know sometime around October.”
Despite a traditionally tight housing market in the Foggy Bottom area, some students said they opted against entering the housing lottery.
“This year I decided to skip the whole lottery and just get an apartment,” sophomore Duncan Bedlion said. “It’s cheaper, but it’s far away and doesn’t have the fast internet.”
Some students said off-campus housing is not an option.
“Going off campus isn’t really feasible since I’m going abroad in the spring, so I just have to hope for the best,” O’Brien said. “It’s terrible that they couldn’t find a way to accommodate students who have been here for a while and paid their dues.”
Sonn said CLLC changed the housing selection process this year in response to a shortage of housing options for last year’s rising sophomores, and to prevent seniors from pulling underclassmen in to more desirable halls.
Last fall Sonn met with members of CLLC and the Residence Hall Association to draft a plan in which rising sophomores choose first, from a reserved group of residence halls. Students were also required to sign license agreements at the lottery this year to prevent seniors from pulling in underclassmen and then dropping out of the room.
“We pay a lot of money to come here but it’s obviously not going towards our housing situations,” Leib said. “Maybe if GW didn’t accept so many students, this wouldn’t happen.”
Sonn said the best way to avoid future housing selection problems is for students to come to the meetings of the RHA and Housing Selection Committee, starting in the fall, to “have a voice.”
-Kate Stepan contributed to this report.