GW alters housing options

Rising juniors and seniors will be able to return to live in on-campus housing, and GW will offer co-ed housing in Scholars Village townhouses next year – part of several changes the University will implement for students living on campus in the fall.

Housing Services officials said last week that they have preliminary plans to allow “selected” upperclassmen to keep their current rooms for a second year and that they are adding Greek-letter-specific residence hall floors and more townhouses around campus.

With the addition of the new Ivory Towers residence hall at 23rd and G streets – which will house 729 students this fall – officials want to attract more upperclassmen to on-campus housing in order to fill beds. In addition, GW has until fall 2006 to comply with a city housing order mandating that 70 percent of students live on campus, including all freshmen and sophomores.

“This is a customer service initiative,” said Andrew Sonn, director of Housing Services. “We are trying to make it easier for the students.”

Last year’s housing lottery was postponed from February until April because of a pending court decision concerning city-imposed housing regulations and several technical glitches with the online lottery system. Housing lottery numbers were reissued to students because of the system’s problems. Several frustrated upperclassmen decided to move off campus instead of dealing with the numerous delays.

Sonn said Information Systems Services officials are working to prevent technical glitches from recurring this year.

“Having to register for housing while taking exams and worrying about booking a flight home was so stressful,” sophomore Cassie Boyd said.

Sonn said students will have housing “squared away well in time to enjoy themselves during spring break.”

Sonn said this year’s new options should attract students back to campus and that officials are always looking to have the most students living on campus as possible. He added that the number of empty beds on campus this year is comparable to last year’s count and that this figure usually ranges between 3 percent to 4 percent for the fall term. Final statistics will be available at the conclusion of the semester.

Sonn also said there should be no waiting list this year because the Ivory Towers adds hundreds of beds. The University has had a waiting list for the past two years, with one of the largest in spring 2001.

Sonn said Housing Services is still developing an initiative concerning returning juniors and seniors keeping their rooms. He said officials will soon decide if all or some students will get “squatters’ rights.”

He said the option would be particularly attractive for students working or interning in the District for the summer.

President of the Residence Hall Association Matt Frisbee said his group has been working with Housing Services this fall to create the best options for next year. While he called the “squatters” plan “vague,” he said it could be beneficial.

Allowing sophomores and juniors living off campus to participate in the housing lottery, something previously not allowed, is another new convenience for upperclassmen, officials said.

Juniors and seniors are scheduled to participate in housing selection on Feb. 29. They can live in halls including 1957 E Street, City Hall, New Hall, the Aston and the Ivory Towers – which will offer apartment-style configurations with amenities similar to those in New Hall.

Sophomores can reside in the Dakota, International House, JBKO and Francis Scott Key and Munson halls. The Pennsylvania House’s 200 beds will no longer be available for students because the University’s lease of the rooms is up at the end of the year. Sophomores will select housing on March 7.

Intent-to-Return forms will be available online Feb. 9, and they are due by midnight on Feb. 16.

The new co-ed option for students in Scholars Village townhouses is the first co-ed housing on campus. Last year, officials considered purchasing the Gallery apartment building in Rosslyn, Va., which would have offered students co-ed housing. Sonn said Housing Services is not considering adding co-ed residence hall rooms at the moment.

Frisbee said he does not think there will be a “push” for co-ed living because of the new Scholars Village policy.

“I think (Housing Services) is willing to do it because some houses hold as many as 15 people, so it would help give students more options.”

Greek-letter organizations will be housed in at least one former Scholars Village house and in other houses on campus. Sonn said Housing Services is gauging interest from the Student Activities Center and Greek-letter groups.

Kim Brownstein, outgoing president of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority, said having Greek-letter residence hall floors and townhouses would be beneficial for meetings and during recruitment. She said most meetings are currently held in the Marvin Center.

“It would get people more unified,” Brownstein said.

All returning students will also have the option to pre-select Mount Vernon Campus residence hall rooms on Feb. 21, before the regular housing selection.

Returning students choosing to live on the Mount Vernon Campus will be given priority registration status for fall 2004 Mount Vernon Campus courses.

The University will also be adding more than 250 singles in 2109 F Street, International House and Francis Scott Key, Mitchell, Pelham, Somers and Strong halls.

Sonn said Housing Services will be working until early spring to finalize housing policies for next year. More information will be available Jan. 21 online at gwired.gwu.edu/cllc.

-Julie Gordon and Aaron Huertas contributed to this report.

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