Two years after GW offered affinity housing as a way for students to live together based on a common interest, the housing office is looking to make the popular program more exclusive.
Only registered student organizations or athletic groups can apply for the program this spring, GW Housing Programs director Seth Weinshel said. The University also raised the group threshold from 10 to 12 members beginning with the upcoming round of housing applications.
“We’re not looking for 12 folks that want to live together unless they go through the process of becoming a regular student organization,” Weinshel said, marking a break from past years, when students with a common interest could secure living space together.
GW introduced affinity housing in 2011, after it nixed Living and Learning Cohorts, which gave students a budget and a faculty adviser to plan programming around a common theme.
In its second year, about 1,000 students applied and received affinity housing slots. The 100 groups, ranging in themes from cooking to watching sports, were placed in a dozen residence halls around campus. Unlike LLCs, which required an intensive application and presentation to earn a spot in the program, student organizations do not have to submit a detailed proposal of their plans for the year.
Weinshel said he hopes to discourage students from applying just to live in a specific residence hall, such as the highly popular building The Dakota. Affinity housing applications are given priority assignments, because they apply weeks before the regular deadline.
Next fall, underclassman affinity groups will live in The Dakota, Fulbright, Mitchell and Guthridge as upperclassmen move into Philip Amsterdam Hall, City Hall and 1959 E Street.
Successful affinity applicants are notified of their housing assignments Feb. 1, just a week after the general housing application deadline.
Student affinity groups will also receive faculty advisers this year as part of an expanded role for buildings’ live-in faculty.
“I think we’ll motivate each other to be more involved, think on new levels and try new things,” said freshman Kalli McKoy, who is applying for affinity housing with members of the International Affairs Society. “I am hoping that it will bring us all closer together and help us form a solid core for the IAS.”
Following the model of Strong Hall and International House, the housing office is also offering up F Street residence hall Building JJ to the growing Greek life community.
Tim Miller, director of the Center for Student Engagement, said GW wants to support Greek life, which has demonstrated high retention rates among members.
Miller also hopes that adding more Greek housing space will open up room elsewhere for non-Greek affinity groups.
“I would never want to look at affinity and realize it’s just a new form of Greek housing,” Miller, who is also associate dean of students, said.
Panhellenic Association president Rachael Abram said the additional space in Building JJ comes at a key time, with Kappa Delta becoming GW’s eleventh sorority last fall. But she doesn’t anticipate a decrease in the Greek demand for affinity housing.
“I think that the rate that our community is growing at is going to match up with receiving more housing,” Abram said.