Adequate housing for first-years should be a priority

The start of the school year is both a happy and stressful time. The uncertainties of housing, though, can supplant the joys of returning to independent collegiate life. Students often hear stories of others with unfortunate or inadequate campus housing situations, such as students having to live in the Wyndham Garden Hotel back in 2006, or how some dorms changed to first-year exclusive residences in 2008 and left upperclassmen frustrated.

When coming to college, first-years shouldn’t have to worry if they’ll have adequate on-campus housing. Housing and residence policies for all universities should focus on optimizing the living arrangements for their new and largely dependent first-year students, while also working to provide sufficient housing for others wishing to live on campus.

Upperclassmen may have complaints about the housing situation as well. Preference is given to students by age in the housing lottery system, with seniors getting first choice. This may dissuade younger students from trying to maintain campus housing.

Also, should upperclassmen outside of the housing system wish to return to on-campus residences, they will find the process “very difficult,” according to the Carnegie Mellon Housing Assignments FAQ.

Yet poor housing shouldn’t be an issue that incoming first-years face, especially when the cheapest rate for on-campus housing is $6,020 for the academic year.

In order to deal with limited housing, the University of Pittsburgh has a 12-year plan that culiminates in the building of a new first-year dorm on Fifth Avenue. According the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this addition will add 559 beds for first-year students at Pitt.

Initiatives like this one are a step in the right direction for ensuring housing for first-year students. While the scope of Pitt’s first-year housing issues are clearly larger, what with being a state school with a much larger student population, Carnegie Mellon Housing Services would be wise to look at similar ways to address these problems.