GW announces new group housing choice

Students on sports teams, in clubs, religious groups and other student organizations can opt to live together in a new housing option similar to Living and Learning Cohorts starting next fall.

The program, known as Affinity Housing, will allow GW-recognized student groups to live together in Ivory if they are juniors and seniors, The Dakota if they’re sophomores, or Building JJ, which is for green-themed Affinity Groups only.

“[The] Affinity Housing program is for groups of 10 or more students who share a common interest or group affiliation?that want to live together on the same floor or wing of a building,” Seth Weinshel, the director of housing, said.

After a preliminary application, each group is assigned to a space and then roommates are determined – all before the general housing application period for underclassmen opens.

Unlike LLCs – whose members focus on completing a funded experiential learning project – Affinity Groups simply live in one area as a way to facilitate learning and community within the organization.

Other changes to the housing application have been made as well.

The historic Lafayette Hall will once again house first-year students next fall after undergoing $9.8 million in renovations this year. It will be home to approximately 130 students in double suite-style rooms, similar to those in Potomac House.

Built in 1926, the updated building will include central heating and cooling, as well as a new elevator, windows and a new roof. It is also slated to become GW’s third LEED-certified residence hall, or a certified environmentally friendly building.

“I think the location has always been a strong preference for a lot of students. But I think with the reconfiguration inside… it will be a popular choice for freshmen,” Robert Chernak, senior vice provost and senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said.

The Dakota, which switched from junior to sophomore housing last year, will become housing for Living and Learning Cohorts, or student-led interest groups that focus on a co-curricular activity for a group of like-minded students. It has not yet been determined which LLCs will reside in the residence hall, but Weinshel said the environmentally friendly LLC will continue to live in Building JJ.

In another change announced last December, the option of gender-neutral housing will be open to all students, except in Strong Hall, Merriweather Hall and 2109 F Street, which will continue to be all-female living options.

The program will be “opt-in” only, and students must indicate their preference in two parts of the 2011-2012 housing application, Weinshel said. Students who answer “yes” to the gender-neutral housing question and list a roommate of the opposite sex will then receive an e-mail to confirm their interest in the program.

As with all roommate matches, the University will honor roommate requests only if they are mutually requested. The program is open to all students, including incoming freshmen.

Sophomore Brittany Moorman said she is still deciding if she will live with a male friend next year, but doesn’t think many students will have a problem with the new policy, even if they live on a floor with mixed-gender rooms.

“People sleep where they want anyways. What’s the difference?” Moorman said. “People will be talking about it, and that’s a good thing. It opens the discussion.”

Other housing options include the School of Business’ living community for rising sophomores in Guthridge, and a School of Engineering and Applied Sciences program for rising sophomores in JBKO.

Munson Hall, located next to JBKO, will house sophomores enrolled in the University Honors Program, where they will have the option of living in a double or triple.

Housing for juniors and seniors will remain the same, with options in Mitchell Hall, 1959 E Street, City Hall, Philip Amsterdam Hall, Ivory Tower and, for seniors only, South Hall.

Prices for the various residential halls will be announced after the Board of Trustees meets in February.

No residential buildings are expected to be closed during the next academic year.

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