Construction narrows on-campus housing options

Upperclassmen say they are worried about landing their top residence hall picks next year as GW closes three buildings for construction, and some are rushing to find off campus spaces.

For the first time, Philip Amsterdam Hall will house more than 200 sophomores, in addition to engineering and the Focus on Fall Abroad living communities. Because juniors and seniors are not guaranteed housing, some upperclassman say they are concerned about being shuffled into Mitchell Hall or onto the Mount Vernon Campus because spots for Ivory Tower, City Hall, 1959 E Street and South Hall will be slightly more competitive.

GW will shut down and gut The West End, The Schenley and Crawford Hall this summer as it prepares to merge the three buildings into one residence hall, the $130 million “superdorm.”

“The ‘superdorm’ is adding to the problem. Trying to get into South is competitive as it is. So, I am looking at places off campus,” junior Tia Andrawis said. “We are all freaking out about it. It is hard to find leases that fit our schedules. Also, a lot of places are expensive and aren’t close by.”

South Hall, as in past years, is open to only 450 seniors and has its own waitlist.

Director of GW Housing Programs Seth Weinshel said the University will still be able to accommodate the students who want on-campus housing next year. He said he expects the waitlist to include between 400 and 500 students, similar to last year, after the housing office implemented heftier cancellation fees. He said he is confident that the office will get students off the list by Commencement, the usual clearing time.

“We are offering every scenario and every student the opportunity to get housing,” Weinshel said.

The rising junior class is also about 150 students fewer than the University’s typical class size of about 2,350. Weinshel said his office does not expect that large numbers of students will have to search for townhouses or apartments near campus.

Still, he said, future classes with more students could be forced off campus.

“When you don’t have a class of 2,350 and have a class of 2,200 or 2,250, that carries through each year,” he said. “That’s why we make inventory changes. Some years you end up with excess capacity and some years you end up with having to put capacity back in.”

The rising sophomore class is about 75 students over the 2,300 target. That makes a housing crunch likely before the superdorm opens in 2016, unless the incoming class of students is smaller than anticipated.

“Until we see the freshman class, we haven’t even begun to project inventory changes yet,” Weinshel said. “We are going to have to make decisions year by year in terms of where we add and take back from inventory. So, what we do this year may not be what we do for the next three years.”

Junior Chelsea Iorlano said that many of her friends were wait-listed last year, and now they’re looking off-campus to avoid the uncertainty.

“With the construction of the ‘superdorm’ going on, it will become more difficult to get housing on campus,” she said.

Another junior Kristin Singh said she will still apply for housing and hopes the University can accommodate her.

“I want to live on campus because it is easier for me and I don’t have a minute for anything,” she said. “I have thought about the ‘superdorm’ and the problem it poses, but I am trying to be optimistic and I hope that the university can provide housing for me.”

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