As students fill out housing applications for the fall, they are seeking answers to questions they have about what different residence hall rooms are like before deciding on their top choice. But GW websites lack up-to-date photos and videos of residence halls, forcing students to commit to a room they may have never seen before.
There are 24 on-campus residence halls, but the housing website does not provide images or videos of rooms in 13 different buildings, and eight contain photos or videos that only display one type of room layout. For example, Thurston Hall has just one video showing a four-person unit, but the residence hall also offers doubles, triples and five- and six-person units.
Applying for housing can be a stressful and nerve-wracking process, and having little knowledge of what a living space may look like does not make it any better. Students also worry about the cost of their residence hall and finding roommates for the next academic year, so they should at least have an image of their potential room before they move in. The University needs to update the housing website with photos and videos of every residence hall room to ensure students can make an informed decision on housing every year.
Some of GW’s 12 peer institutions offer a peek into every residence hall. Four universities provide photos, videos and 360-degree photos of each housing option. For example, Tulane and Georgetown universities have interactive, 360-degree photos along with still images of every residence hall. New York University offers video tours of its standard-sized rooms in all 22 buildings, and the University of Southern California provides images of its residence hall rooms. These glances into residence halls allow students to make informed decisions about which living space is best for them.
The Residence Hall Association produced videos of first-year residence halls, except Mitchell Hall and Fulbright Hall. The videos could alleviate some stress of moving into a new living space away from home for the first time, but they leave out all other undergraduates who might be equally as nervous about finding the perfect room for the next academic year.
When an individual wants to rent an apartment, they are allowed to look inside the space to decide whether they like it and want to spend money to live there. But students who live on campus are blinded from their potential residence hall room but pay for it anyway.
Photos and videos of every residence hall will allow students to make more informed decisions about where they want to live next academic year. Students should not be required to live on campus and then forced to pay for something they have never seen – especially upperclassmen who have less access to photos and videos than freshmen.
Officials should make it easier for incoming and returning students to see what it is really like to live in the heart of D.C. by providing more information about their residence halls online.
Hannah Thacker, a freshman majoring in political communication, is a columnist.
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