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Staff Editorial: College needs to step up on-campus housing

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April 20, 2007

1:54 AM

This is the time of year when students have traditionally packed Trinkle Hall in a frenzied effort to get their hands on the best housing options for the coming academic year. This spring, with the housing lottery taking place online and no more than 60 students vying for rooms during a particular block of time, the housing selection has been, by most accounts, smooth and easy. However, with 326 students bumped from campus housing before the lottery began — an increase of 150 from last year — it remains clear that Residence Life and the housing selection process have serious flaws.

p. While ResLife reports that those who were bumped will eventually be reinstated, offers for housing for these students will likely consist of overcrowd rooms with randomly assigned roommates, a prospect which does not excite many. The issue, then, appears to be a lack of adequate space. There are several ways for the College to address these concerns and make sure that next year there are not so many students left out in the cold.
It is no secret that the idea of living in the Dillard Complex is far from glamorous. Yet, at the same time, the security and knowledge that one has a place to live with people he or she knows outweigh the inconvenience of taking a shuttle to campus.

p. Furthermore, the fact that Dillard has been sitting idle all year, serving little if any purpose, while hundreds of students do not have guaranteed housing is absurd, particularly when housing laws in the City of Williamsburg make it extremely difficult to live off campus. In many cases, students are informed that they have been bumped months after all the available off-campus houses have been scooped up, leaving students to hope that a room with a transfer student in the Units becomes available.

p. Reopening Dillard would provide a short-term solution to this problem, but a more thorough and practical approach would involve rearranging the placement of certain College offices and houses in order to accommodate students. For example, the Stetson House, the Holmes House, the SA House and a host of other buildings on Jamestown Road are currently used as offices, many of which employ workers with access to cars. Moving such offices to Dillard or elsewhere would free up these houses for students. While these houses cannot accommodate the same numbers as campus dorms, they would play a crucial role in taking pressure off ResLife and making the process more convenient and less nerve-racking for students.

p. We understand that no solution will be a panacea for ResLife or for student housing concerns. Some students will still be unhappy with where they end up, but the idea that a top state school, particularly a college of our tradition and supposed commitment to on-campus living, does not have a system in place that can guarantee housing for all of its students is inexcusable. This becomes even more staggering when the facilities are currently in place for guaranteed housing. Students at the College have enough to worry about without having to stress about whether they will have a place to live during the next academic year, and the administration and ResLife need to recognize this concern.

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