400 on wait list after room draw

by Lizzie Wise | 5/13/02 5:00am

The image of homeless sophomores pitching tents on the Green was rekindled after the third annual Room Draw, which left approximately 400 students without a College housing assignment for the 2002-2003 academic year.

Those '05s placed on a housing wait list will not know where and with whom they will be spending their sophomore year until mid-August, according to administrators at the Office of Residential Life.

"I think it's ridiculous with all the money that you pay to go here that the College cannot even guarantee housing to half of the sophomore class until the end of the summer," wait-listed Dave Wolkoff '05 said.

ORL originally planned to run Room Draw each night throughout the week of May 6, but it cancelled the final night after all available rooms had been distributed through squatting and the previous nights of room draw.

Students with priority numbers higher than 3,950 attended a wait-list information session Friday afternoon in Leede Arena.

Although College housing is only guaranteed for first-year students, ORL staff is confident that it will find housing for all of its students.

"I don't know a student who's been stranded on the Green," acting assistant director of Housing Chealsea Nather said. Nather is the administrator in charge of the housing assignment process."For the past few years, we've accommodated everyone on the wait list," Dean of Residential Life Marty Redman told a group of approximately 20 freshmen on Friday.

"I was placed on the wait list my sophomore year with a few hundred other people, and I got off the list and ended up with a single in Topliff," Ben Doyle '02 said.

Last year's wait list of approximately 200 students found housing, even if it meant living temporarily in dorm lounges or residing in the Tree Houses, Redman said.

"We always hold more beds than needed," Redman said, estimating that 300 students will change their D-plan between now and the end of the summer. Thus, the rooms of those students who decide to take off the Fall term will be given to wait-listed students based on their original priority numbers.

In addition, ORL has set aside 1,200 beds for the class of 2006. Extra beds will be available for those on the wait list.

At $130,000 per bed -- the cost to house one student -- the College would have to spend over $8 million to guarantee housing to all students.

"Emotions run high right now," Nather said. "We're trying to be very empathetic."

Redman agreed. "We do everything we can throughout the summer to get you housing."

Redman shared his personal experiences to alleviate the stress of wait-listed students who will have to live in so-called "undesirable" dorms next year.

"I lived in an 110-foot double [in] my first year," he said. "Even our worst dorms here are better than some of the rooms at your friends' colleges."

He added, "I was on the wait list too. I know what it feels like to be on both sides of this situation."

"It's really frustrating even though they say, 'Don't worry,'" Narissa Chang '05 said. "It's bad timing with midterms."

Her future roommate, Meredith Hartley '05, was more optimistic. "It'll be really hard to wait, but we can only cross our fingers and hope we get housing. It'll be OK."

This year's housing crunch was impacted further by the influx of students who chose to squat in their current rooms.

Last year, 140 students squatted, while this year 300 students reserved their rooms for next year. This increase in squatters results from the addition of more dorms to the reservations system. All dorms except for the River Apartments, the East Wheelock Cluster and first-year housing were open to squatting.

"The concept is that they create their own community" by staying in the same dorm, Redman said.

According to Nather, the River apartments were the first living spaces to be filled. Gile was second most popular, followed by Massachusetts Row. The least popular housing were the Tree Houses and North Hall, which for the first year will be deemed a "quiet" building.