After two years at GW I’ve dealt with just about every aspect of this University’s bureaucracy. Surpassing financial aid, the registrar, student accounts and even the president’s office, CLLC is by far the most frustrating. This poorly run branch of the GW bureaucracy sometimes is so obsessed with something that they’re blinded to the reality the real world is trying to show them.
I say this in response to a statement made to me earlier this year by Michael Murphy, assistant director of housing services. During my fight to get off campus, Mr. Murphy told me “that living on campus is a privilege.”
Calling GW housing a “privilege” is comparable to calling extortion a favor. Freshmen and sophomores, forced into housing by the Board of Zoning Adjustment, are charged a grand a month for a space that would go for a few hundred in apartment complexes. In the meantime, juniors who want to live on campus are told that, due to the effects of squatters’ rights, they must choose from the senior class’s leftovers.
At $3,350 per semester, West End quads are the cheapest housing on campus. If a semester lasted a full four months they would cost $837.50 a month. A two bedroom at the Envoy is listed as $1,800 a month, if split by the same four students, they would have nicer and more spacious housing, but for $450 a month. To call being overcharged thousands of dollars a year a “privilege” is a little delusional to me; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This year students are getting more “privileges.” Rising sophomore Katia Thomas, for example, is being forced to live on Mount Vernon for the second year in a row. Roommate Marisa Workman had the following to say: “Students don’t come to GW to live on Mount Vernon. They come for the urban atmosphere that GW advertises. Being forced to live on the Vern, especially two years in a row, is ridiculous.” She’s right, it is ridiculous. Some students may choose to live on the Vern, but for most it’s seen as an undesirable housing situation left for freshmen. The fact that this year’s juniors are being forced onto the Vern or off campus is outrageous.
The reason that juniors are winding up on Mount Vernon is that 1957 E St., Ivory Tower, the Aston and New Hall were all filled before junior housing selection even began. Juniors had the “privilege” of picking between Mount Vernon, Strong Hall or City Hall. They were basically forced to pick between unwanted housing and moving off campus.
Director of University Campus Housing Seth Weinshel stated to The Hatchet that changes in the squatters’ rights policies this year were intended to make on-campus housing more attractive to upperclassmen.
With 156 people claiming them, squatters’ rights managed to make the Ivory Tower nearly impossible to get into. Largely as a result of squatters, juniors are losing out with housing this year.
Yet it’s not entirely CLLC’s fault that sophomores and juniors are getting horrible housing options. Part of the blame goes to administrators who keep taking larger classes. Yet, CLLC and the University should have planned contingencies last year in case the amount of students accepting invitations to join the class of 2008 was larger than anticipated. They should also have considered the effect squatters’ rights would have. As a result of their negligence, sophomores and juniors are being given very poor housing options.
CLLC is failing miserably in its job of serving students. While Mr. Weinshel assured me that CLLC is doing its job and will provide housing for those who want it, I think he should just walk through J Street to see how many students carry a dissenting opinion. Maybe then CLLC would understand that “privileges” aren’t supposed to leave people feeling as if they’ve been given the shaft. Until this realization comes around, the four letters in CLLC shall sadly remain appropriate in the hearts and minds of the student body.
-The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.