Lucas Hagerty: The tough luck of housing assignments

There are many factors that affect the quality of college life, but none play as large a role as a student’s housing situation. That is why the day housing assignments are announced comes with Christmas-like anticipation. Depending on what the iHousing e-mail says, your summer will either be spent giddily planning out your room with friends or dreading the year to come. Will you be separated from your friends? Will you be in an inconvenient location? Or will you get your first choice?

Earlier this month, when the housing assignments came out, some students were left wanting. Most juniors and seniors were able to get their first or second choice of housing; with a good number of students moving off campus, there are much fewer people fighting over the choice rooms in Ivory Tower and other upper class residence halls. The real drama comes in the selection for rising sophomores.

The first issue is the number of applicants for the top two dorms, West End and JBKO. According to Assignments Director of GW Housing Programs, Seth Weinshel, both were placed on the top of at least 600 students’ lists. The problem is that West End has only 210 beds and JBKO has only slightly more at 268. With as many as 1,200 students requesting 478 beds, many are forced to accept their third and fourth choices.

But for the students asking how the lucky couple hundred got their room of choice, the answer is quite simple: Lady Luck. Weinshel says that, “GPA, judicial history, previous assignment or admission status do not impact the iHousing process.” This means it comes down to dumb luck and there is really nothing you can do to increase your likelihood of getting your first choice dorm.

The problem is that the housing system is a fluid one that has to account for the size of the freshman class that fluctuates from year to year. This means your quad in Thurston could be a sizable double next year, and your dream year in JBKO could become another year in Mitchell. The retention rate also changes so, based on the number of students registering for classes for a given year, Potomac House could turn into freshmen-only housing, while sophomores could find themselves in The Dakota. Housing assignments for each building are not set in stone. A sophomore is not guaranteed sophomore housing, because, in truth, there is no sophomore-specific housing.

And if you find yourself in a less than favorable situation, quietly accepting your fate may be your only choice. Switching rooms once housing has been assigned can be difficult, depending on where you want to go and where you are coming from. Good luck finding someone to switch into your Mitchell single.

Is it right that your living situation, the one factor that could potentially make or break your year, is chosen completely randomly? Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. The iHousing system is brand new and there are no signs of any change coming soon. The best I can offer is to build up some karma, grab your rabbit’s foot and hope for the best.

The writer is a freshman with an undeclared major.

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