Class of 2011 disadvantaged by room draw

This year’s room draw process left an unprecedented number of current first-years homeless, placing countless students on not-very-promising waiting lists while pushing others toward last-minute, off-campus housing.

Housing, or the lack thereof, has been a persistent problem on campus for several years — in the past, Carnegie Mellon has had to stoop so low as to house students in rooms at the Wyndham Hotel in Oakland or bunk them in dorm lounges — but this year is worse than most.

Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that Boss, Scobell, and Mudge Houses are in the process of being converted into all first-year housing — and that Housing and Dining Services refuses to come clean on whether or not it has canceled its contract with Cathedral Mansions, which houses 147 Carnegie Mellon students each year. As the last group to select residences for room draw, the rising sophomore class was hit the hardest. While Housing has said that it will assign residences to all students currently on the waitlist by June 1, it is unfair to shift the burden of navigating this obviously flawed system to the group of students who is the least familiar with the room draw process.

In addition, there were technical problems with the program that shows students which residences are still available online; several students complained of the program showing either falsely available or falsely unavailable housing options. The system was eventually taken down, but the unpredictability of the room draw process added to students’ unrest.

Furthermore, judging by this year’s botched room draw, Housing has failed to acknowledge how a living situation can affect a student’s emotional well-being and academic success.

If students don’t feel comfortable in their living environment, and don’t want to spend time there, they will be less happy overall than students who are content with their living situations. In addition, students who feel they don’t have a decent environment in which to do their schoolwork likely spend less time on homework and have to work in places that leave them more prone to distraction, such as the library or the UC. By forcing more students into less-than-ideal living arrangements, Housing is increasing the likelihood that more students will experience emotional stress because of where they live.

As students, we know how hard it is to negotiate finding a place to live and other students to live with. Having to change where and with whom one is living, or being forced to accept a place on the waitlist and continue to be unsure about where one will end up, puts additional stress on already stressed-out students that could have been prevented far in advance had Housing notified students of the situation sooner, allowing them more time to make alternate arrangements.