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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Down by the River

Like many of my fellow 'shmen, I attended Room Draw on May 9th. We all knew that chances for housing were slim, with 389 beds left for our class. I went anyway, hoping (against the odds) that somehow I'd get housing. Upon entering Leede Arena, Food Court lasagna dinner special in hand (as if I was going to spend a dollar for a pack of M&Ms while waiting there) I saw a conglomeration of my fellow '03s. I could feel the collective nerves of my classmates jangling, worried if they'd get the last room, which I think was either the 159 square foot one room double in Ripley, or one of the third floor rooms in North with sloped ceilings so that anyone over 5'6" can't stand upright in them.

My number was 4,295. Luckily, I had a friend with a decent number, so it was upped to 3,679. With 179 numbers in front of us, then subtracting the Wheelock kids, the off-campus kids and the off-term kids, I assumed I could still get one of those feared one-room doubles in Topliff or the Lodge. We were a group of four, wanting two doubles, that was all -- nothing extravagant, just simple housing. Of course as I'm sure you've all heard, we failed in our mission. All spaces ran out less than 150 numbers into my class, the cheerful announcer telling us "This is the moment you've been waiting for!" My head dropped -- without this block, I go back to my original number, and so did my potential roommate. We filled out our waitlist applications and were expected to accept the fact that this happens every year.

Now, wait a minute. "This happens every year?" I want to know where this assertion passed from absurd to being an excuse for the current situation. Dartmouth has had housing crunches every fall term (and most springs) for as long as anyone can remember. If a housing crunch happens every year, it is imperative to FIX THE PROBLEM, not throw up your hands and give up. We're told that housing will open up; it does every year. Tell that to some sophomore friends of mine who crowded extra people into an apartment illegally so at least they could take classes. This situation is ludicrous!

Enter the Student Life Initiative, which states that ideally, everyone should get housing. What a concept! My question is: why do we need an Initiative to solve our problems? We need COMMON SENSE. Hundreds of students who want housing are forced off-campus, into study lounges and basements every year. No more excuses. Build dorms. Now.

What has the College done to temporarily ease the shortage? Oh, increase the size of the incoming freshman class? Wonderful idea! Don't get me wrong, I love Dartmouth and want to share it with everyone, but there is an ingenious solution to our problem. REDUCE class size. A reduction of 50-75 students per class would slightly decrease tuition revenue, but we can afford it with our $1.71 billion endowment. Within four years there would be 200-300 fewer students on campus. No housing shortage. Then, buildings could be decompressed, more could be built/renovated/etc. Also, a reduction in students would help to raise the percentage of "high ability" students that the Dartmouth administration greatly desires. This isn't my idea of a perfect world, but if we're committed to offering housing to all, it's either this or start building on the Green tomorrow.

So next year when I'm living out of my car (boy I wish I'd picked the iBook to save space!), with the blinkers on so I don't get ticketed much -- knock on the window and say hello. Then again, maybe ORL will get us all housing, though it won't happen until September, after enough people have panicked and made other plans. Maybe I'll be lounging in Mass Row in a recently evacuated single. And maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt.