Housing Lottery 2004: Few students elect to stay in current rooms

GW received fewer than 30 applications from students choosing to keep their current on-campus housing, with most students electing to select new housing assignments or move off campus, Housing Services officials said. The new policy, dubbed “squatters rights,” was established this year to encourage upperclassmen to stay on campus and fill GW’s growing number of on-campus beds.

The 28 applicants will reside in 1957 E Street, JBKO, the Dakota, and Francis Scott Key and Munson halls. New Hall and single-occupancy residents are not allowed to remain in their current housing. Freshmen are also excluded from the policy.

Director of Housing Services Andrew Sonn said the low response to the squatters rights option surprised him.

“I’m not sure why it wasn’t more popular among students, especially since numerous students suggested that we pursue this initiative,” he said.

Several students said they chose not to remain in current housing because the University added more single beds for next year or because they wanted to move off campus or live in the brand new Ivory Tower, which is set for completion this August. The Ivory Tower will feature music practice rooms and several first-floor dining options as well as luxurious rooms.

“It’s a great location and everything about it just looks really sweet,” said rising junior Matt Mihalich, who currently lives in the Pennsylvania House. “Just telling people you live in the Ivory Towers – how cool is that?”

Other students said it was still cheaper and more convenient to live off campus than remain in their current halls.

“If (my roommates and I) don’t get into Ivory Towers, we’ll probably just go ahead and move off campus,” rising junior Zach Frankel said. “You can get better living quarters for a lot cheaper, and I hate having to deal with the bureaucracy that comes with the University housing system.”

Although some students living in New Hall, who were not extended squatters rights, complained about being excluded from the plan, Sonn said he has not heard about the qualms directly.

Sophomore Mark Facciolo and his roommates in New Hall said they hope their class standing will secure them sufficient lottery numbers to remain in the hall.

“We agree and hope that odds are most New Hall residents will be able to stay in their rooms through the lottery because we won’t be competing with underclassmen for housing options,” Facciolo said.

Students will begin selecting their new rooms in the next three weeks. Pre-selection for the Mount Vernon Campus will start Saturday, while general selection will take place Feb. 29 for rising juniors and seniors and March 7 for sophomores.

A record number of students submitted Intent-to-Return forms this year, which were due Tuesday.

GW received 5,047 housing applications, almost 600 higher than last year, and more than any other year in University history. However, GW’s undergraduate population also hit a record high this year.

In response to suggestions by the student-run Residence Hall Association, the University instituted several new housing policies this year, including the squatters rights option and allowing students who live off campus to return to campus housing, granted they have no judicial holds on their account and meet standard registration requirements.

In addition, students submitted ITR applications almost two months earlier than last year, which Sonn said makes on-campus housing an easier option. Last year GW had several backups with its housing lottery, after technical glitches forced the University to re-distribute numbers.

The pool of students entering the housing lottery includes 1,772 rising sophomores, 1,767 rising juniors and 1,443 rising seniors. Students returning to on-campus housing added an additional 75 applicants to the mix, nearly all of whom were rising seniors. Although students are not bound by the ITR submission, Sonn said he thinks most of the students will return to campus.

The University will offer more than 7,000 beds for students to fill next fall. GW will release details on how many singles, doubles, triples and quads it will offer next week.

– Ashton Tebbe contributed to this report.

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