Andew Siddons: Get out before it’s too late

I’m looking forward to graduating for many reasons, but one of them is that I’ll no longer have to deal with GW housing. I wish I had left it behind two years ago, never looking back at its myriad bureaus and frustrating policies. Don’t make the same mistake I did – move out while you still can.

Two occurrences this winter break helped lessen my opinion of GW housing even further, despite my being several hundred miles from any GW-owned property. The first was the announced changes to the housing selection process. The second was an incident that will hopefully be the last inconvenience I experience due to GW housing (but I doubt it).

Many of you are likely now familiar with the changes in question. The housing lottery has been replaced with a system known as “iHousing.” Instead of choosing your room from those available during an assigned selection time, you and your roommates-to-be will receive assignments based on your preferences, much like rising freshmen.

Hopefully there are less of you familiar with my own experience. I made a day trip to D.C. during winter break for a job interview. It had to be a day trip, because the University locked me out of my room. Heading to the interview, after a brief sojourn in Gelman and a bite to eat in Ivory, my belt broke. With no access to a belt in my room, I called the one person I knew to be around campus for help. I met him in Rice Hall – pants around my ass – and he lent me his size 32 belt. I’m a size 36. Sucking in my gut, I marched to my interview with my dignity only slightly in tact.

It’s hard to blame GW for this incident, but I still think it’s a little bit funny that I’m locked out of my room for three weeks every semester, especially considering what we pay to live on campus. I can understand that the alternative might involve increasing UPD presence and having some House Proctors work a few shifts during the winter break, but I don’t think this should warrant milking us for a few hundred more dollars to enter our rooms. GW Housing Programs staff like to make comparisons between GW and New York University – a place where RAs must work a single three-day shift during the winter break, and university police staff the entrances 24/7. Why isn’t that the case here?

GW’s housing policies demonstrate a disrespect for people who choose to live on campus, and the new selection process is further proof. iHousing offers no solutions to the numerous problems housing selection faces.

You could argue we’re making the process more equitable, by giving students who might have had an awful lottery number a better chance at living where they want to. But what happens when students overwhelmingly place quads in New Hall, Ivory Tower and 1957 E Street as their first choice? When this inevitably happens, not everybody will receive his or her top choices – so who gets screwed? It’s just as random as before, but this time, students will be unable to choose considering what’s actually available.

The old process, to be sure, was stressful, as we would watch the number of rooms available dwindle with each passing hour. Our selection process has problems, for sure, but I don’t think that eliminating the old system offers the best prescription. “iHousing?” More like “iHaveNoChoiceInMyHousing.”

Thankfully, they have made it more reasonable for upperclassmen to back out if they are displeased with an assignment. I would instead recommend not giving GW a chance and start apartment hunting early. Don’t let GW decide where you’ll live – decide yourself. I wish I had made the effort two years ago, but I chose poorly. On the bright side, GW’s new housing policy will be less likely to encourage people to make the same mistake I did.

-The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs and anthropology, is a Hatchet columnist.

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