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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Midyear mess: Housing headaches

Published: February 17, 2012
Section: Opinions

You may be surprised to hear that I am not unhappy being a midyear. I know that it has been discussed many times, but as a receiver of the midyear acceptance letter, I can’t emphasize the confusion and insecurity that follows its delivery. I spent the many months separating my acceptance to the university and my arrival in Waltham, hoping that by the time Brandeis began I would be genuinely excited to be here. Now, more than a month into the semester, I am glad to report that I am.

The midyear experience, however, is not a flawless one. One of the only truly negative aspects midyears have to confront is the housing process, after just a few weeks at Brandeis. Other first-years have the opportunities to form relationships with their friends and establish whether or not they would be good roommates. Midyears, however, are forced to bond quickly under the duress of being the “new guys” and unstable relationships ensue. Many promises have been made thus far within the midyear group about housing next year. Friends have come up to me, clutching the roots of their hair in a panic, confessing to have promised themselves to two different friend groups and accompanying housing arrangements. I have already been part of a failed attempt at establishing a “common-cause community.” We went so far as to begin to write the application before we realized that we truly had no interest in committing ourselves to the cause we were writing about, but instead were just hoping to avoid the catastrophe that the housing process appears to be.

During the last day of the orientation we were treated to a presentation on the housing lottery system and process that sufficiently freaked me out. I have had very little time to come to terms with the fact that I could either end up in a closet in the Castle, a bug infested room in East or a smoky haze in Rosie.

I’ve heard horror stories of former midyears whose housing situations completely deteriorated, resulting in rooms being swapped. While I’m sure this is not limited only to former midyears, it is undeniable that the time crunch in which midyears are forced to make housing decisions can contribute to this housing strife.

An added downside to the midyear-housing situation is that we are set up in what has been described to me as “hotel-style” living. After living in the Village for a month, it’s not difficult to see why my living in the Village and all the things that go along with it (the gym, the V-Store, kitchens) is “clutch” to say the least. I’ve lost track of the number of times non-midyears have told me not to get used to my cushy living situation because its all downhill after living in the Village.

I appreciate that the midyear program facilitates bonding within the Chosen Ones (the midyears) and I don’t find it to be exclusionary from the first-year community or the Brandeis community as a whole. At the same time, living in the Village does narrow down potential roommates, seeing as we’re only exposed to 100 or so people in a communal fashion.

I’m not sure how this problem can be remedied or avoided. I only hope that the friends that I make this semester as a midyear continue to be my friends after the housing process, which I’ve been told can be the beginning or end of friendships.