Students weigh housing changes

Junior Maressa Spinak said she is disappointed with living in the West End and would not choose to live there again next year. Although located close to the Marvin Center, the West End lacks high-speed Internet and amenities some more modern residence halls have.

A new policy this year will allow select rising juniors and seniors living on campus to keep their rooms for the next year. Director of Housing Services Andrew Sonn told The Hatchet last month that the option would be particularly helpful for students living in D.C. over the summer, but Housing Services has yet to determine which students will be able to keep their rooms.

But Spinak said she is not in favor of the policy because it could give students living in newer residence halls an unfair advantage.

“No way do I want (to remain where I am),” Spinak said. “I want to get as far away from the West End as possible.”

Spinak said she will still register for on-campus housing next year out of convenience.

The “squatters rights” are one of several new housing policies enacted for next fall, along with more coed housing and single rooms.

This year’s housing initiatives are designed to keep upperclassmen on campus and provide students with better choices, Housing Services officials said. The new options could also help GW come into compliance with a city-mandated order requiring the University to house 70 percent of students, including all freshmen and sophomores, on campus by fall 2006.

The pending ordinance postponed last year’s housing registration from February until April, and the process was further complicated by problems with online lottery number distribution.

Several students said last year’s complications led them to question their confidence in Housing Services, although officials are working to prevent technical problems.

“The whole mix-up last year was awful, and no one liked the way the school handled it with scaring everyone,” senior Neha Kumar said.

Juniors living off campus this year will be able to return to campus housing next year. In the past, students who moved off campus were not allowed to return.

Junior Rachel Green, who moved into an off-campus apartment this year, said she bought furniture and accessories when she moved in and that it would be difficult to move back to on-campus living.

“It makes no sense economically to move back,” she said. “Plus, I still pay about $400 to $500 less per month.”

In addition to new policies, Housing Services has added several new living options, including the Ivory Towers, located at 23rd and G streets. The building will house 729 students in apartment-style rooms. Students can also choose from 250 single rooms throughout campus in residence halls such as International House and Francis Scott Key Hall. There will also be additional housing for Greek-letter organizations in at least one Scholars Village townhouse and Greek-letter residence hall floors.

Many students said they are glad to see more single-room options.

“Increasing singles is a good idea because it’s something our campus really lacks, and a lot of people want to live alone,” freshman Srilata Remala said.

Members of Greek-letter organizations said they think more housing for members will help to increase the Greek-letter community’s presence on campus.

“It will get the fraternities and sororities who do not have housing now more involved,” said junior Andrew Dualan, a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, which has a house on G Street. “With the rush for the frats, it will create a more even playing field because frats without housing will not have to organize events off campus.”

Some students who are not members of Greek-letter organizations agreed.

“I think more housing for the Greek community would be a great idea,” senior Colleen King said. “It would really create more unity.”

Housing Services will also allow Scholars Village townhouses to be coed, unlike in past years when they were single-sex. Some students said they think this will become a popular option.

“I like the idea,” sophomore Caitlyn Hyde said. “It’s easier to live with guys. I think people will want to take advantage of it.”

Sonn said more information on the fall 2004 housing options will be available in about a week and a half.

-Julie Gordon contributed to this report.

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