Take time to understand the new housing fee
Last fall, the Residence Hall Association carefully considered whether or not to support the then-proposed housing cancellation fee, which has attracted much attention since its announcement in The Hatchet (“Housing to levy $350 fee for cancelled housing,” Jan. 23, p. 4). The policy, aimed at reducing a growing housing waitlist, underwent multiple levels of review before our organization ultimately decided to support the change.
The RHA recognizes that some may oppose this change. But members of the community should take the time to understand how this change is actually a benefit to students living on campus before simply writing it off as “a hard-line tactic,” as Hatchet columnist Trent Hagan did (“Give students five days before charging for housing,” Feb. 2, p. 4).
From historical data, it is clear that a significant number of students apply for on-campus housing with no intention of living on campus, and this creates challenges for the hundreds of students who either know they want to live on campus – or need to because of financial or other circumstances – by placing them on the waitlist. The waitlist leads to student ire and confusion, as many are often left without housing for weeks. By establishing this new policy, the University took a measured approach to prioritize students who want or need to live on campus, and the RHA supports that effort.
There are several ways to avoid the fee. If you apply for housing and cancel before assignments are announced, you do not incur a fee. If you wish to cancel after assignments are announced, you can avoid the fee by giving your assignment to a student on the waitlist. If you apply for housing and are placed on the waitlist, you may cancel without incurring a fee.
The goal is to prevent some students’ choices from having negative consequences on the choices of others. For this reason, I predict that this policy will give more students their preferred housing assignments and minimize the size of the waitlist. Nevertheless, the RHA will closely monitor the effects of this policy and provide the University with feedback to ensure that the policy’s goal of making the housing selection process fairer is fulfilled.
Matthew Galewski is the president of the Residence Hall Association.