Housing horror story
April 17, 2007
I’d like to preface with a disclaimer: the following was intended for publication last Tuesday, so pretend you’re reading my column this time last week.
p. There’s nothing worse than being stuck with an unwanted roommate or finding yourself living in an unpleasantly run-down dorm. You end up dreading your home, you lose a grip on reality and focus less on your studies as you become increasingly consumed with contempt and despair. Soon you lose all form of social manner, failing to execute the most basic of human tasks. Circadian cycles are disrupted and sleeplessness ensues.
p. This year, 326 students were bumped, 150 more than last year. The lottery fails to provide students with adequate housing. It isn’t enough for the College to find any old room for a student, or to randomly assign him a perfect stranger. Especially if you’re an out-of-state student, you pay damn good money to come here, and an agreeable living arrangement should be expected. Without good housing, you can’t enjoy your time at the College, as your falling grades, increasing agitation and general insomnia will reflect this.
p. If you or your roomie-to-be were bumped this year and are double- or triple-overcrowding, make sure the three or four (or, depending on potential girlfriends, the five or six or seven or eight) of you collectively get along. If your roommate has a girlfriend, have him move in with her, or send him abroad for a semester.
p. The worst thing you can do is stay in the lottery without a roommate. You’ll randomly be assigned a stranger, most likely in one of the Units resembling Dante’s depiction of Purgatory, arisen out of fraternal refuse, wall-urine and stale, spilt beer — not the place to be.
p. If you’ve been bumped, I feel your pain. I, too, am a product of the bump. Because I was bumped, my current roommate (who had a damn good number — I’m talking top 50 good) and I had to find a third party to live with us. We held out until we couldn’t hold out any longer. The day after our decision to double overcrowd I was reinstated — go figure.
p. My relationship with this third party soon disintegrated into false pretenses juxtaposed with blatant proclamations of distaste. He couldn’t stand my tendency to leave clothes and cereal scattered about the floor or my 11 o’clock curfews; I couldn’t get over his lack of personal hygiene or the eight-straight hours of video games. One day I snapped in a fit of snarling terror. Things were said. Oatmeal containers were thrown. Enough said.
p. According to Assistant Director of Residence Life Katrina Pawvluk, not many students are willing to voluntarily bump themselves. This makes sense, as the concept of overcrowding is absurd. I mean, who’s the genius that came up with the idea to take a group of kids and stick them in cramped quarters like a can of sardines? Living in such a way is unsanitary; rooms begin to smell. Disease spreads like wildfire, often the worst kinds too, such as Mono or Norovirus. Not to mention infestation.
p. If students need to remain on campus, Pawvluk said that she could find them a place to live, but they would have no say in where they would live or with whom. That’s embarrassing, and I’m embarrassed for all of us.
p. With an increased acceptance rate of 33 percent, I fear that the College is letting just about anyone in these days and should reject more applications to ensure adequate student housing. It’s a bit extreme I realize, but so are the living arrangements. I figure the people in charge of it all go for extreme ideas. Another solution would be to outsource our students. Pay students to commute from Hampton, Norfolk, Newport News and Richmond; send them to D.C. or abroad to Singapore.
p. Although off-campus housing in Williamsburg is heavily restricted in terms of space and occupancy (call your mayor), prices are comparable to on-campus dorms — you may even be able to save a couple hundred dollars. Plus, you’ll enjoy unconditional air-conditioning year-round, not this nonsense of shutting down early and reopening within the last weeks of classes.
p. __Sherif Abdelkarim, a sophomore at the College, is a staff columnist. His columns appear on Tuesdays.__