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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Housing a recurring embarrassment

Published: March 2, 2012
Section: Editorials

The annual on-campus housing headache is upon us once more. The Friday of winter break, like clockwork, the Department of Community Living sends out each student’s personal, randomly chosen lottery name. But each successive year is another reminder of the many, myriad problems with the university’s residence life.

Each year numbers get less and less powerful, as more and more students are forced to live off campus. The university’s decision several years ago to increase the number of admitted students for four years was not coupled with any reasonable housing plan to accommodate that number.

More and more buildings are ceded to the underclassmen—who are guaranteed housing—every year; more of the Village will be given to sophomores this year, once used exclusively for study abroad students.

So on top of the confusion over what a given number will get a student, the numbers that will grant a student a space get fewer each year. And living off-campus is thrust upon a student very quickly.

That is one of the reasons the entire ordeal should be shortened. Four weeks from now students will line up and anxiously get or fail to get suitable living space, but the time should be cut to about two weeks. Students who need hurriedly to find space off campus—and let’s face it, the number grows higher all the time—need the earliest notice possible if they are to compete for off-campus apartments.

The university knows it needs to expand housing options. We recognize the expense of new dorms or extensive renovations but there are cost efficient ways to improve housing. Renovating dorms with new carpets, fresh paint and modern furniture can make dorms such as Ziv more attractive to juniors and seniors, for example. The renovations to Charles River were an effective and appropriate use of university funds.

Limited housing options is one problem. But Brandeis should also know it needs to smooth the number system and the anxiety that comes with it. In the meantime students are paying.