Dorm, sweet dorm

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April 8, 2008

12:18 PM

__A look at student’s housing options both on- and off-campus__

p. It’s housing season again — that time of year when students hunt down the best possible living situation while bumped students tear out their hair with worry.

p. Undergraduate housing selection begins tomorrow, and with 207 students still involuntarily removed from the housing selection process, the pressure is on to find an alternate housing solution or sweat it out in hopes of being reinstated. This year, 143 fewer students entered the housing process, 133 of them from the class of 2010. This large drop could be due to the large number of freshman bumped last year who were not reinstated and will continue living off-campus for the upcoming school year.

p. Popular options for off-campus housing including Governor’s Square and the Midlands apartment complexes. Governor’s Square offers two-bedroom apartments for $865 per month and three-bedroom apartments for $975 per month, complete with two full baths, a fireplace and access to a volleyball court and laundry services.

p. The Midlands offers two-bedroom apartments for $875 per month and three-bedroom apartments for $990 per month with one and half baths and access to a washer and dryer for an additional $50 per month.

p. Living off- campus also provides sophomores with easy access to parking.

p. “I really liked having a car,” Kayley Byrne ’10, a resident of Governor’s Square, said. “At the same time, I sometimes wish I was still on campus.”

p. For students who have not have to deal with the complications of being bumped, it is now time to choose the best possible room for their given time slot. On the top of most seniors’s lists are the Lodges, Randolph apartments, Ludwell double apartments, and Jamestown singles.

p. Carl Reitman ’08 transitioned from a Chandler double to a Jamestown single this year.

p. “I think the singles are really private, because of the corridors in Jamestown,” Reitman said. “They are a little small, but the quality is much higher. I really like Jamestown a lot, and am very happy with my choice.”

p. For rising juniors, hopes rest on doubles in Jamestown and Ludwell quad apartments. Brendan Mascarenhas ’09 lived in a Ludwell triple this past year and described his experience as enjoyable.

p. “The distance [from campus] makes you feel independent,” Mascarenhas said. “Ludwell is the perfect mix for anyone who is tired of dorm life but wants to stay relatively close [to] campus,” Mascerenas said. According to Mascarenhas, the only drawback to Ludwell was that a one-bedroom apartment could be quite cramped for three people.

p. For rising sophomores, the Units are easily the bottom of the barrel. Unlucky sophomores get stuck in non-fraternity Units, placing them far from all academic buildings and close to all the frat parties. One upside is the proximity to the Rec Center — a perfect place to work off all your Units-related frustration.

p. Many upcoming sophomores expect to live in Chandler, Landrum or the Bryan Complex. While these may not be the most desirable dorms on campus, they are realistic alternatives to the Units. Tim Bacon ’09 has lived in Chandler for three semesters. Bacon said he likes the dimensions of Chandler rooms. “I was exceptionally impressed with the 12-foot ceilings until I realized that no piece of furniture rises above six feet, thus rendering all the extra space virtually unusable,” he said. Other complaints he had about Chandler were the responsibility for cleaning one’s own suite bathroom, a lack of hot water he experienced this past semester and the noise from the hallway that easily penetrates the dorm walls. However, Bacon’s favorite part of Chandler was the lounges. “The first floor Chandler lounge is reminiscent of a 1920’s parlor that is only lacking a framed and stuffed rhino head,” Bacon said. “It is very large and nice to study in.” Having lived there for both sophomore and junior year, Bacon recommends Chandler for the sophomores only. To Chandler’s future residents he offers this advice: “Swem stacks a lot of toilet paper in their bathrooms and I don’t believe it is an Honor Code violation to take them as I was told there is a small charge in our student fees that is designated for TP.”

p. For all those still worried about the selection process, which for the second year is entirely on-line, Res Life assures returning students that the available room search feature has been improved. There is also a demo video for viewing on their website.

p. Those truly hurt by the increased involuntary bumping are the new transfer students. According to the ResLife webpage, “Bumped students are housed before former students, transfer students (with the exception of designated transfer spaces) and currently enrolled students who did not pay a housing deposit.”

p. This left many new transfers searching last summer for off-campus options. Caitie Adkins ’10 was number 45 on a waiting list of over 80 female transfer students. When she was not given a space on campus, her parents decided to invest in Williamsburg real-estate and bought a condo for Adkins to live in. “It’s sometimes hard when you live off-campus, because you miss out on a lot of on-campus things.” she said. “But I still like it.” Adkins is going to continue to live off-campus next year.

p. For some, living off-campus can be a very attractive idea. Rent is usually less expensive than on-campus board, and spaces with a private bed and bath are easy to find on the Student Information Network. However, students need to realize the responsibility of this action, and learn to watch out for crooks and bad deals. Lance Zaal ’09, concerned that students are unaware of their rights as renters, how some take advantage of students’ inexperience in realty. “Students are easy prey for dishonest realty companies and individuals,” he said. “Some seek to earn additional profits through corrupt practices. For example, there have been cases where a realty company will seek to retain your entire security deposit and charge you for preexisting conditions on the property.” These rights are enumerated in the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Due to his and his friends’ adverse experiences, Zaal advises students to avoid Berkeley Realty “at all costs.”

p. Whatever your decision about housing for next year, it needs to be made soon. Most off-campus apartments have waiting lists that fill up by the end of March, and the best rooms and houses are full months in advance. With room selection next week, the student population will be in a fervor of preparation. But though it may be stressful, with some research and planning, your housing choice for next year can be a blessing instead of a curse.

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