Seth Weinshel’s job is to put a roof over every student’s head. But his job as director of University Campus Housing is certainly not that simple. Students want a particular roof.
Housing is a hot-button issue during this time of year, and it seems like students care more about their housing assignment than their grade point average. At the Community Living and Learning Center this year, Weinshel has overseen huge changes, including reforming the roles of community facilitators and overhauling the housing selection system by dividing residence halls by class.
Weinshel discussed with The Hatchet last week some of the ins and outs of this year’s housing selection.
Q: You graduated from GW. When you were a student, where did you live and which building did you like best?
A: My first year I lived in the Aston. It was the first year for the Aston and there were 120 freshmen who lived there. Then I lived in the International House and then in Francis Scott Key and then back to FSK as a CF.
My favorite place was definitely FSK when I was a CF. I had a double to myself. No doubt about that.
Q: If you were a student now, where would you choose to live?
A: If I were a second-year, I would pick a double in Munson or in JBKO. It’s a nice community feel. As a third-year student, I would personally live at FSK. FSK gets shadowed by the newer buildings. It’s a great location and in a lively environment. You end up with a population of about 2,000 people in a few blocks’ radius. As a fourth year, I’d say an Ivory Tower quad. It’s the newest dorm, it’s large and gives you the possibility to network with students. And there is a food court downstairs. I am a big coffee drinker, so Dunkin’ Donuts in that building is a big advantage for me.
Q: CLLC has made a lot of changes this year. Both the roles of community facilitators and housing selection have been changed to a class-specific system. What prompted the changes to housing selection?
A: Many of these changes came from hearing from students last year that the junior class felt like they weren’t getting a fair opportunity. We heard that and made the changes. We tried to come up with a system that is fair to every class. We are setting up a system that we feel is truly fair to the entire population and we did the same thing with the CF position. CFs in the past have been portrayed as policemen, and that’s not their job and it’s not what it’s supposed to be.
Q: What is your advice to students who have bad housing numbers?
A: My advice to them is don’t stress about this. You are all going to get a housing assignment. For the most part, half of the sophomore class will have kitchens and half won’t. Don’t stress out ahead of time because you’re going to get a housing assignment and you’re going to have a good year and you’re going to graduate from GW. Your assignment won’t be that different from the rest of your class. Everyone wants the most popular thing and the University can’t provide everyone with the most popular thing.
Q: In the days following housing selection, how many phone calls would you say the Community Living and Learning Center receives?
A: The phone pretty much doesn’t stop ringing. We’ve averaged about 200 e-mails a day since intent-to-return housing forms were released.
Q: A lot of students say that if you aren’t happy with your housing assignment, you are more likely to get a room change if your parent calls. What do you say to this?
A: It’s false. Having your parent call is not going to be any different than if you call. I am going to have a much more open conversation with a student than if a parent calls. When a parent calls, typically I’ll say, “What’s your student’s number? I’ll give them a call.”
Q: Why the $300 cancellation fee for canceling a housing assignment?
A: The reason why we have the cancellation fee is because over five years ago when housing selection was done on big cardboard pieces of paper, there was a $300 deposit. Every student who goes through the process is holding a space that could be for another student. We don’t look at it as a penalty. It’s so a student who doesn’t want housing doesn’t affect the rest of the population.