Sky Singer: Rising juniors should be rewarded with better housing

At the end of my freshman year, I left for the summer excited to know I would come back to a nicer place to live on campus. I survived freshman year in Thurston Hall, and I knew that my housing would only get better from there. I felt confident that my sophomore year would be spent living in a cleaner, newer residence hall, as I was assigned to Amsterdam Hall. Now, as a rising junior, I cannot say the same thing.

I left campus last week without a housing assignment for the fall. After a few issues on my end with my housing application, I’m on the housing waitlist and won’t be placed in a room until mid-summer. When I asked the housing staff where I could end up living, they told me it could be any residence hall – from Shenkman Hall to anywhere on the Mount Vernon Campus.

Executive Director of GW Housing & Financial Services Seth Weinshel said that while there are many factors that play into how students are placed on the housing waitlist, officials intend to accommodate all students.

“This year, because the University shifted the housing application process to later in spring (allowing students to clear holds on their accounts, finalize plans for study abroad and determine if they will need on-campus housing), the waitlist is the lowest it has been in many years,” Weinshel said in an email.

While the number of students on the waitlist might be lower this year, as I’ve begun to navigate my way through the waitlist process, I’ve realized how broken the housing system is – from how students are assigned rooms to the quality of residence halls. As a rising junior, I’m part of the first junior class mandated to live on campus. Despite being forced to live on campus, GW officials aren’t fair in their housing assignments for rising juniors.

The way it is now, second- and third-year students are on level playing fields for housing assignments. In order to accommodate juniors who are forced to live on campus, GW should design a housing system that rewards older students.

Giving housing preference to older students on campus is the right thing to do, and many universities consider seniority in their housing assignments. American University, one of GW’s peer institutions, designates higher quality and more private housing – such as singles, newer dorms and junior-only housing – for upperclassmen.

If upperclassmen must live on campus and are possibly forced to spend more money than they would for an apartment in the area, officials should make upperclassmen living experiences the absolute best. Having a quality living situation is an important factor in students’ happiness and stability on campus.

If the quality of housing at GW was more consistent across residence halls, then a lottery assignment system wouldn’t be as much of a problem. But when sophomores have equal chances as juniors to live in brand new residence halls, it feels completely unfair, since we are forced to live on campus in the first place.

The University announced it would renovate and upgrade four residence halls over the summer. While renovations are a start, older GW residence halls need significant restoration to be up to par with newer buildings. And if officials can’t do that because of the time and money it would take, the University should establish a new room assignment process to give older students something in return for staying on campus.

I was extremely lucky to have housing in Amsterdam Hall as a sophomore. But looking back, it doesn’t seem right that I had better housing than some juniors will this upcoming year.

Rectifying this problem should be one of officials’ top priorities. Housing is an integral part of student life on campus. A dorm room is a home away from home, a place where students can retreat to feel secure and happy. GW needs to do more to ensure students feel at home on campus, especially when they are requiring us to live here anyway.

Sky Singer, a sophomore majoring in political science, is a Hatchet opinions writer. Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.

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