University alters squatters’ housing policy

Rising seniors and Mount Vernon residents can choose to keep their housing assignments for another year, a change from last year when nearly all rising juniors and seniors could opt to stay in their dorms.

Squatters’ rights, a policy established last year to encourage upperclassmen to continue utilizing campus housing, was available to rising juniors and seniors and excluded those living in New Hall or single-occupancy rooms.

This year, rising seniors who do not live in single-occupancy rooms and all students living on the Mount Vernon Campus can opt to stay in their rooms for another year. Students living in The Aston, 2109 F Street or Scholar’s Village Townhouses are excluded from squatting.

“We have seen an increase in the number of upperclassmen choosing to live on campus,” Seth Weinshel, director of University Campus Housing, wrote in an e-mail. “Because of this we have incorporated squatters’ rights over the past two years to provide this population with some different housing options.”

Weinshel added that the student-run Residence Hall Association provided feedback on last year’s squatting policy. Last year, only 15 students chose to stay in their dorms.

“We hope we can encourage more (upperclassman) students to stay on campus and we believe that allowing rising seniors to squat will be a great incentive to remain on campus,” Weinshel said.

This year, students will also be receiving housing selection numbers before the squatters’ rights process, a change that helps students determine which option would provide them with a better room.

The University will also continue more of last year’s experimental policies, including permitting students who reside off campus to return to campus housing.

A new cancellation policy will also become effective this semester, in which rising juniors and seniors involved in housing selection will be permitted to cancel their assignment by May 2 and pay a $300 fee.

Rising seniors and Mount Vernon residents will be able to take advantage of squatters’ rights from Feb. 3 to 8. Students must fill out an application in order to stay in their current housing assignment.

Andrew Dunaway, a junior living in the Dakota, said he does not believe last year’s squatters’ rights policy was very effective.

“People want to move up into bigger and better dorms,” Dunaway said. He added, however, that if he were not planning to live in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house next year, he would likely choose to stay in his current dorm.

Angela Chang, a freshman living on the Mount Vernon Campus, said she supported allowing Mount Vernon residents to squat.

“For Mount Vernon students, squatters’ rights are cool,” Chang said. “But for upperclassmen that get to stay in Ivory and such, I’m jealous.”

For rising juniors and seniors, housing selection will take place online Feb. 27. Rising sophomores will be able to sign up for housing on Feb. 28, March 2 or March 3.

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