Housing Plan Is Unfair

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 2/28/95 6:00am

In theory, the Office of Residential Life's new housing plan is a good one. It makes sense for seniors, who have been at the College the longest time, to have the best housing on campus, followed by juniors and then sophomores.

But, given that the Dartmouth Plan makes it impossible to predict the numbers of students on campus in any given term and that for the past three years there have not been enough beds on campus fall term to meet the demand, the new housing policy is unfair.

The new system unjustly punishes sophomores, who are likely to be on campus in the Fall term and who do not have the advantage of Summer term to look for housing.

If recent trends continue, there is a good chance there will be a waiting list this fall for on-campus housing. In addition, seniors who would otherwise live off campus may choose to stay in residence halls because of their good priority numbers.

These two factors make it likely that more sophomores, who have the worst priority numbers, will be denied residence hall housing.

It would make more sense to give juniors worse priority numbers. This decision would help alleviate the housing crunch Fall term because a poor housing number would deter juniors from staying on campus.

Earlier this term, a committee composed of some of the most powerful administrators at the College proposed ways to limit Fall-term enrollment. Most of those suggestions were ways to convince juniors to take the Fall term off. There is no better way to convince the students to take a term off than to give them poor housing numbers.

Juniors are also in a better position to find off-campus housing because they know the area better and they have more time to locate an off-campus apartment.

But since this year's priority numbers have already been assigned, it is not feasible or fair for the College to meet the request of the Student Assembly Executive Committee's recent resolution that the numbers be redrawn.

Instead, the College should try to address the root of the problem -- the shortfall of beds on campus and the inability to predict enrollment patterns. To this end, the College should examine the D-Plan and investigate the construction of a new residence hall.

In the meantime, the Office of Residential Life should follow the Assembly resolution's advice to help the sophomores find off-campus housing and arrange for some sort of subletting system.

It is too late to change the College's new housing and enrollment pattern policies, but the administration should do the best it can to make sure that sophomores are not unfairly punished in the likely event of a housing shortfall.