Housing lottery woes: Nowhere to go, not even to cram
Chris Evans, Staff Writer
April 12, 2012
Filed under Opinion
As the memories of last week’s housing lottery linger in the backs of our minds, one must wonder where everything went wrong.
I remember my first housing lottery. I had already been on campus for a semester, and had been accustomed to living in a dorm by myself, as I had transferred mid-academic year. Standing in front of those two TVs, I had the benefit of a roommate who is a full year ahead of myself, guaranteeing us a spot in Mitchell. There was very little I had to worry about.
This year, on the other hand, we had decided to aim for a triple in the View, which unfortunately closed in the first 20 minutes of this year’s lottery. Panic struck me hard as I realized that even with a fantastic senior card number leading the way, all we could do was watch as plan C and plan D closed before we had the chance to pick.
After finally figuring out what we were going to do, I had a startling revelation, this was only day one of the lottery! I would spend the rest of the week listening to horror stories of students being crammed five to a three-person dorm — like a sardine can. Tales spread of freshman dorms being overrun with sophomores because there was nowhere else to go. Has the student body outgrown our small school’s available space?
Students forced into triples receive only a 10 percent reduction in the price of room and board. I know that I can walk the halls of Grewen, Reilly and the old science center at any given time and witness a number of empty classrooms.
So it doesn’t appear that we’re packed to the brim with the bodies of those seeking a thorough education; even the cafeteria doesn’t fill up completely. Is it possible that the only real problem is that we need more dorms?
Obviously this year’s housing lottery has left the veteran on-campus students with a bitter taste in their mouths, but I had to seek out how the freshmen felt about it. One girl I spoke to told me that she and her friends wished that they had been “better prepared for what to expect,” and that it was kind of a free-for-all, dipped in confusion and deep-fried in backstabbing” as students abandoned multiple housing plans to find even one place to lay their heads next year.
They too watched the TVs in the James Commons, astonished as rooms filled up across campus well before their time to pick arrived. “We never imagined we’d be praying to be able to get back into St. Mary’s,” another student told me as she recalls watching Foery and Harrison Halls fill occupant capacity in mere minutes of one another.
What of the incoming freshmen? “We should just knock down the walls and create barracks,” one senior suggested. Is that the end result, while the school expands and improves its offices and classrooms?
The problem stems from a combination of over-acceptance and a lack of newly built living arrangements (the “new” Heights were constructed in 2004, and house a meager 74 students). I believe that it is safe to say that in order for the school to continue to prosper, housing is the issue that should take priority over all other campus-wide improvements.