Housing waitlist: a necessary evil
This week, Residence Life announced that there will be a waitlist for 2014-15 room selection, totaling around 260 students initially. Although the purchase of the Hospitality House eliminated the need for a waitlist last year, an increase in the number of students choosing on-campus housing and Residence Life’s decision to change certain room designations has necessitated it. Although the waitlist throws a monkey wrench into some students’ housing plans, it is also valuable: It ensures as few vacancies as possible and indicates that students want to live at the College of William and Mary. However, the College should aim to create a small waitlist that minimizes interference with students’ lives.
In order to maintain equilibrium between housing supply and student demand, the waitlist is a necessary evil. For every vacant room, the College loses money on student housing fees, while paying for their upkeep. Ever hungry for more funding, the College should avoid these inefficiencies.
The waitlist allows more flexibility for students. Last year, with a surplus of housing and no waitlist, Residence Life restricted students from opting out to fill as many rooms as possible; ideally, students should have this choice, and a waitlist ensures that they do.
Ensuring every room is filled also guarantees that students will have neighbors. Although the sense of community in upperclassmen dorms is generally minimal, it is psychologically comforting to know that there are others around you. If you have experienced returning to campus before most of the student body, moving into an empty dorm can be creepy. Throughout the year, vacancies hinder Resident Assistants’ attempts to bring students together, and in the event you misplace your student ID, having neighbors who recognize you comes in handy.
Having a waitlist also reflects the positive trend that students prefer to live on campus. This benefits the College because it creates an active community where students not only attend classes, but also enjoy the company of their peers. If most students lived off campus, they would have less incentive to call the College home. Currently, 76 percent of College students live on campus, a feat uncommon for schools of our caliber and one we should be proud of.
We commend Residence Life for making student housing so attractive. Residence Life has been responsive to student requests, converting the triples in Ludwell to doubles and the Bryan Complex basement doubles to singles. It has also added dozens more beds in One Tribe Place.
While high student demand for on-campus housing is great for the community, it also means the College will need to adapt to guarantee housing to all students who want it. Every incoming class will contain more students, which will create an even longer waitlist if demand is not reduced or the College does not make housing changes. The College may have to decrease the number of single rooms or perhaps make purchases similar to the Hospitality House.
Though the waitlist can inconvenience students, it helps the College use its housing efficiently and reflects the strength of our community. That said, the College must do everything possible to keep it short, a task that will prove challenging as the student body grows.