First-years obtain expanded housing

Room Draw has arrived, and anticipation is in the air as many still scurry to find rooms and roommates for the upcoming school year. While first-year students will have more options, upperclassmen will be experiencing a number of new restrictions.

Boss House, Scobell House, and Mudge House are all making gradual transitions to becoming all first-year areas, as are a number of floors in other buildings. Rooms in these buildings will either be limited to first-year students or restricted for upperclassmen.

Boss will become an all-first-year building starting in the fall, so upperclassmen are not allowed to retain their rooms.

Scobell will eventually hold all first-years as well. However, next year, current third- and fourth-floor residents, and first- and second- floor residents who possess singles will be able to retain their rooms.

Mudge House will also begin its transition to all first-years. Only current Mudge House residents will be able to retain their rooms. These residents will not be able to pull in others.

Other housing areas that are unavailable include Donner House, Hamerschlag House, Morewood Gardens E Tower, and New House, as well as the first floors of Henderson, McGill, and Welch houses.

The changes were made based on the deliberation of a task force that was created last spring solely focused on first-year housing.

“The task force members agreed that the benefits which would accrue from the ability to intentionally design the staffing, program, and facility in these communities around the first-year experience outweigh the loss of flexibility some first-year and upperclass students would have in selecting housing options,” said John Hannon, director of Student Development.

However, Hannon emphasized that the changes in housing are not meant to isolate first-years.
“The goal of these changes is not to isolate first-years from upperclass students,” Hannon said, “but rather to allow us to create residential communities on the main campus that are specifically designed around the needs of first-year students.”

Kim Ting, a sophomore biology major and RA in Morewood E Tower, agreed with Hannon.

“A first-year building provides for a good community of people who are more willing to leave their rooms and make friendships with their fellow housemates, something that is important for the first-year experience,” Ting said.

Other students, like first-year information systems major Ashley Castillo, see it differently.

“All the first-year buildings are understandable, but they make campus housing almost impossible for upperclassmen. With so many houses reserved just for first-years, our options are more and more limited,” she said. “And the whole housing and room draw process is still confusing for me. There are rumors flying left and right as to what’s open and what we’re allowed to retain.”

However, Hannon insisted that the task force considered the issue from every angle.

“The impact of these changes on upperclass students was heavily considered throughout this process,” Hannon said. “Looking ahead, as we increase the number of first-year spaces in some houses, we will be lowering the number of first-year spaces in other houses, which ultimately means that more upperclass students will be living in those spaces.”

For example, under the current plan for 2008–2009, there will be no first-year students living in Resnik, West Wing, Morewood Gardens, Roselawn, Woodlawn, or Margaret Morrison, which means that approximately 120 additional upperclass students will be living in those houses as compared to the 2007-2008 year.

Despite these new spots, some upperclassmen are worried about being left with off-campus housing, most of which is more expensive than on-campus residences.

“By the time we find out if we’re on or off campus, it’ll be too late to try to look for apartments or houses that may be cheaper,” said first-year H&SS student Christine Lin.

Lin also brought up the fact that the decisions for the RA process are not announced until after the housing process has begun.

“We should know sooner of RA decisions so that we can more readily prepare with our friends whom we will be rooming with,” Lin said.

While some are set with retained rooms and prearranged roommates, many are still left wondering where they can live due to housing changes and room draw numbers.