Op/Ed:GW ignores student housing concerns

The Housing Committee of the Residence Hall Association has had an ongoing dialogue with the University about how the housing selection process could be improved, a relationship that has resulted in many positive improvements over the past few years. Diverging from such a mutual atmosphere, the administration has made dramatic and sudden changes to the on-campus housing process that has serious implications for all GW students living on campus and in no way improve any student’s situation.

One change, the decision to offer only five housing selection numbers at Martha’s Marathon, is said to be “philosophical” in nature and will significantly diminish the amount of housing scholarship money RHA raises each year by approximately $20,000. For the past 38 years, Martha’s Marathon has been instrumental in helping to raise funds that benefit GW students who receive financial aid. Fewer numbers offered simply means less money raised for these students. Last year, RHA raised a record high of $47,000, stemming primarily from winning bids on the housing selection numbers. Those who have the resources to spend on a selection number are able to and do so at the benefit of lower income students, this is the foundation for any type of auction whose proceeds benefit others. Sadly, this philosophical shift will leave many stranded.

The decision to disallow sophomores who purchase a selection number at Martha’s Marathon from choosing to live in upperclassmen halls will once again hinder the scholarship fundraising capabilities of the auction. If rising sophomores who spend this money in the auction are not able to select upperclassman halls, then the desirability of a selection number will be significantly less, along with the amount they are worth.

Throughout first semester, the Housing Committee strongly advocated returning more student choice to the very successful online selection process by detailing room amenities. Much to our dismay, administrators seem to be saying that if more specific room selection occurs, students must pay more for such rooms. The rooms have not changed, yet some will now cost more. Such logic is unreasonable, as are hopes that students will quickly forget there was no price differentiation when specific room selection was in place two years ago.

These decisions directly go against student interest and ignore discussions that the RHA Housing Committee has had with the University. The RHA hopes the administration will reconsider its sudden policy changes or find a fair middle ground. Let us not cloud the air with unyielding pride allowing ambiguity to rule, but rather permit compromise to achieve a state in which we can all reside.

-Emily Naden, a junior majoring in political science, is the president of the Residence Hall Association. David Johnson, a senior majoring in political science, is RHA vice president.

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