Housing changes for 2020-2021 announced

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Language Houses move to Hardy and Landrum Halls, Class of 2023 faces on-campus residency requirement. DESIGN BY EMMA FORD / THE FLAT HAT

As students began classes for the spring semester at the College of William and Mary, one topic permeated discourse on campus: housing selection.

Regarding the 2020-2021 housing application, two new housing changes are at the forefront of discussion. For the first time, the College will require sophomore students to remain on campus to form a Sophomore Year Experience for students returning in their third and fourth semester. Additionally, the language houses currently placed in the Randolph Complex will be moving to spaces in Hardy and Landrum Halls.

According to Associate Director for Administration Harriet Kandell, the College does not have any major space concerns regarding the influx of sophomores living on campus.

“Historically we house approximately 75% of enrolled undergraduate students. In recent years about 200 sophomores have chosen to live off campus, and we have space to accommodate this number.”

“We won’t really be able to see the impact at least for another year or two to be able to compare the data from previous years,” Kandell said in an email. “Historically we house approximately 75% of enrolled undergraduate students. In recent years about 200 sophomores have chosen to live off campus, and we have space to accommodate this number.”

For fall 2020, the College will make available 5,028 bed spaces total. To prepare for the Class of 2024 and for the new sophomore requirement, the College will hold 1,534 of those beds. For the Classes of 2021 and 2022, a total of 1,934 beds will be left available.

As in past years, rising seniors will be given the first time slot to select rooms, then rising juniors, and lastly, sophomores. However, certain rooms will be unavailable during senior and junior room selections to ensure that enough rooms will be available to all sophomores. No singles and apartments will be reserved for sophomores exclusively.

Based on data from previous years, Kandell explained that there appear to be more beds available than demanded by upperclassmen. She also added that in the past six years, more than 75 percent of sophomores have chosen to remain on campus.

“… every year we know on average over the last 5 years 1,730 juniors and seniors opt to stay on campus,” Kandell said. “This past year we have 1,611 juniors and seniors residing in campus. So you can see, we anticipate having enough space for all students who wish to live on campus.”

The push for the new requirement came after the College enacted its First Year Experience program in 2013.

According to the College, the new sophomore year experience was established “to support students’ academic and personal success during what is often called the ‘slump year’ or the ‘lost year.’ Many institutions have been moving in this direction with approaches that are programmatic and/or residential in nature.”

Some current freshmen have concerns around the new residency requirement. Taylor Robertson ’23 wondered how the sophomore on-campus living requirement will affect fraternities and sororities. Some FSL organizations do not have on-campus housing and this new requirment will prevent sophomores from living in their organization’s off-campus housing.

“For me personally, I’m in a fraternity but we don’t have an on-campus house, so for most fraternities and sororities, all their sophomores are going to go live in their on-campus house and will be fine,” Robertson said. “… Since we don’t have a house, I’m going to be required to live on-campus which will be really hard for a fraternity to keep off-campus houses because you have less brothers who are unable to go and get houses together. … I definitely feel like I’m getting a bonding experience taken away.”

Additionally, Ella Schotz ’23 also expressed frustration with the fact that because of being required to live on campus, she and other sophomores must purchase one of the three meal plans available to students.

“I don’t really see the reasoning and its really frustrating because now you’re required to have a meal plan on campus, which I think if I cooked for myself, I could get that at a much better price,” Schotz said. “And especially since I don’t think the food is exceptional, especially for me since I am a vegetarian.”

Other housing changes will be occurring during the 2020-2021 academic year. No residence halls are set to close completely, but Yates Hall, Madison Hall and Stith Hall basements will be closed for repairs with the goal of reopening by fall 2021.

Compensating for these temporary partial closures, One Tribe Place is set to open for fall 2020 and the construction is scheduled to be complete by July 2020. One Tribe Place closed for the 2019-2020 academic year due to structural concerns. After construction is complete, both the structure of the building as well as interior design will be updated.

Meetings are being held to make sure the construction is following a proper schedule in order to avoid a late opening, which befell Landrum Hall in fall 2018.

“There are weekly construction meetings and thus far all work is proceeding as planned,” Kandell said. “Our regular protocol with all major projects includes a contingency plan for temporary housing that if for some unforeseen reason there was delay and it didn’t open on time, we have an advance plan in place. At this time the project is on schedule. We are excited to share that not only are we completing the structural renovations such as structural work, but we also are in the process of renovating all interior spaces removal of wallpaper, new flooring, and new bedroom and lounge furniture. The building will certainly feel and look different when residents return.”

However, some students are concerned with signing up for a room in One Tribe Place since it plans to open so close to the start of the fall semester. Caroline Donnelly ’22 said that the current housing changes makes it difficult for upperclassmen to choose nice, livable dorms to choose for the next academic year.

After moving into her freshman dorm in the Green and Gold Village last year, Donnelly began experiencing asthma and other breathing issues. Although she states that it is hard to prove a causal relationship between her health issues and her residence in GGV, she believes that mold and a lack of a clean environment contributed to her issues with her health.

“… I’m not saying that my freshman dorm caused my asthma, it could have been something I was going to grow in to, but it definitely pushed things forward. … I am super wary of potentially having another living situation where my asthma is bad, and that’s just one more thing to deal with in addition to being a college student, being involved in stuff.”

“I would say that my past experiences with housing has been pretty negative considering I lived in GGV, which isn’t terrible because I understand that they need to fit a lot of freshman somewhere, but the mold issues were so bad that I have developed asthma and I’m on Pulmicort because the inflammation that started freshman year of college didn’t go away,” Donnelly said. “… I’m not saying that my freshman dorm caused my asthma, it could have been something I was going to grow in to, but it definitely pushed things forward. … I am super wary of potentially having another living situation where my asthma is bad, and that’s just one more thing to deal with in addition to being a college student, being involved in stuff.”

Donnelly’s concerns stem from the fact that Camm Hall will be housing freshmen for the 2020-2021 academic year as she is a current resident of Camm.

The movement of the Modern Language Houses from the Randolph Complex to the second floor of Landrum and the second and third floors of Hardy has sparked discussion among students in  different Facebook groups. Additionally, the Africana House will move to Landrum’s ground floor. Students currently living in these dorms will be eligible for same building sign up.

The change was implemented so the programs would be housed in more accessible dorms complying with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, so that all students can participate in the programs.

Donnelly explained that she understands why the College made the change, but also believes the College should prioritize creating livable, clean dorms for all students.

“I understand why they are closing down the basements, especially if they have mold issues because I don’t want anyone to go through what I did my freshman year. …” Donnelly said. “I feel like the language houses were in an area that was kind of hard to get to, so I like that they are more integrated into campus. I think that’s important if we want to underscore how much we value the role of language, and being bilingual and all of those important things, but I don’t know if it should be coming at the expense of all these other students who are now going to be living in gross, bug-infested, mold-ridden rooms that are inevitably going to be harming their health.”

Schotz added that students do not expect the College to upgrade every dorm immediately, but emphasized that the College can take action to improve student’s living experiences without cost-heavy repairs.

“I will say, a big problem that I have with the dorms is the lounges because they are not functional at all, at least in my dorm. …” Schotz said. “I guess I wish that if they were going to be forcing us to stay in the dorms, they could show that they are trying to make them better. You don’t necessarily have to redo the whole building like Hardy, just like putting in furniture that is functional.”

“I will say, a big problem that I have with the dorms is the lounges because they are not functional at all, at least in my dorm. …” Schotz said. “I guess I wish that if they were going to be forcing us to stay in the dorms, they could show that they are trying to make them better. You don’t necessarily have to redo the whole building like Hardy, just like putting in furniture that is functional.”

In addition to the changes to dorms, Residence Life has also redefined block housing for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“Block Housing will consist of blocks of four in suite style housing and will occur with traditional housing selection,” Kandell said.

Schotz hopes that in the future, the College improves correspondence with students regarding housing and begins to incorporate them into the discussion earlier, particularly around the sophomore requirement.

“I wish there was just more communication,” Schotz said.

“I wish there was just more communication,” Schotz said. “And I know that I am just a freshman, so maybe there was more student input given last year for students who were already there, so I can’t speak to that. But just like, communicating what is going on and what they are thinking in advance and their reasoning. I just have no idea what the school would do this for except for wanting us to pay them again for housing.