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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Students angered by lack of housing

In what may become the largest housing crunch since 1994, 389 freshmen are still without housing after all the assignments have been made in room draw.

After spending the day fielding questions from disgruntled students and parents, Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman officially announced the number last night at a meeting for unassigned '03s.

While Redman said that the number was similar in size to last year at this time, it has been six years since a waiting-list has been that large. Actual housing shortages, however, have typically been avoided by the time the Fall term arrives.

In 1994, the waiting list for Fall term housing included 423 students -- since then, the number has averaged about 150 -- but even that year all students eventually received housing or changed their D-Plan, avoiding a shortage of housing in the fall.

In the most dire recent end result, 11 freshmen were housed in converted study rooms and residence hall lounges for the beginning of their Dartmouth careers in 1998 until permanent housing was found.

The last priority number to be assigned housing this year was 3,645 -- a situation that Redman believes resulted from a traditionally excessive number of rooms reserved for incoming freshman and an abuse of the grouping option at room draw.

While the College only expects an eventual incoming freshman class of 1,075, ORL reserved 1,200 rooms for these new students, as they are guaranteed housing.

Losing rooms to potential freshmen accounted for a portion of the unassigned '03s, but Redman also felt that many students with poor housing numbers were hurt this year by students taking advantage of the grouping system.

"It's amazing how many new friends people made last night based on someone having a good number," he said.

Director of Housing Services Lynn Rosenblum agreed that the grouping system "isn't going to work very well with the new room draw."

Since people no longer apply electronically and can now visually see where their friends have chosen to live, there is no longer a need to block and the system "gets misused," she said.

Many students have echoed this complaint, as ORL and the administration have been faced with a very vocal response from homeless '03s.

Yesterday afternoon a BlitzMail message written by Jennai Williams '03 and Adam Kuhlmann '03, both of whom did not receive housing, was forwarded to most freshmen, asking them to "stage a vigil in protest of the administration's irresponsibility in allowing hundreds of sophomores to be without housing next year."

After discussing town ordinances and legal codes with Dean of the Freshman Class Gail Zimmerman, Kuhlmann and Williams have planned a peaceful protest on the lawns of Parkhurst and McNutt Halls starting at 10 p.m. tonight.

Members of the class of 2003 will be allowed to speak their minds and sign a petition lobbying for guaranteed housing. Dean Larimore and Redman will also address the crowd's concerns at 10:30.

"I want peace of mind for future classes," Kuhlmann said. He said he felt that the room assignment process had been poorly handled, and that ORL should have expected manipulation of the blocking system.

Jacqueline Buros '03, who has also been helping to plan the protest, strongly agreed that the College needs to guarantee housing for all its students.

"I can't work and study, if I don't know where I'm going to live next fall," she said. "If they had told us from the start that there was a good chance so many of us wouldn't get housing, I would have started making alternate plans earlier."

Since students did not apply electronically this year, the length of ORL's waitlist for on-campus housing has yet to be determined.

As of last night, ORL had only received 87 completed wait-list forms, but many more were distributed to the attendants of last night's meeting and additional copies are available in the ORL office.

Despite the flaws in the new room draw system, Rosenblum said she felt that "students will eventually learn to love it."

She said the College will likely continue with the system.

"All new things have problems," she said. "There might be small adjustments made, but nothing final at this point."