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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis housing: lets not overdo it

Published: September 22, 2006
Section: Opinions

With the recent hoopla regarding the construction of a new dorm on campus, the university has a lot to consider in terms of size, placement, design, and amenities of this residence. Upgrading stale dorms and creating more housing for students is a welcomed process by the community, however, the administration ought to resist the growing trend of universities to build posh dorms.

Last week, the Associated Press profiled campuses with luxurious housing. DePaul University recently built a mod-styled structure that comes with granite counter tops, designer furniture and satellite television in every room. Moreover, common areas come with fireplaces and pool tables. Illinois State University is now constructing a housing complex that comes with outdoor volleyball courts, hot tubs, and a plasma television in every room. Other universities are replacing all twin-sized beds with full-sized mattresses.

While Brandeis has made no statements suggesting they plan on doing something so extreme, and there should be no reason to think otherwise, this recently development suggests that administrative oneupmanship could lead to lavish dorms regardless of a university's intension. Daniel Feldman, Vice President of Capital Projects, recently told The Hoot that if Ridgewood is left standing, there would be substantial improvements of landscape. While this probably does not mean hot tubs and volleyball courts, the University knows that planting a few bushes will not cut it in the modern economy of colleges.

While spicing up Brandeis to make its residence halls more appealing to prospective students is a good thing, the process has the potential to completely ruin the Brandeis community as we know it. DePaul's new mod costs students a thousand dollars a month to live in, whereas the Foster Mods at Brandeis only costs $6,590 for the year. While the extra two grand DePaul charges may seem like spare change to some, to others, it's the difference between living on-campus or apartment hunting. There is a significant portion of students at Brandeis that simply cannot afford housing at Brandeis already. While a lot of people whine that they were screwed by the housing lottery, many do not bother to enter the lottery solely because housing is too difficult to afford at Brandeis. Off-campus, a student can receive a good apartment for half the cost of a Mod and can live in it all summer as well. If Brandeis increases housing costs so they can make Brandeis a country-club campus, more and more middle class parents will be telling their sons and daughters that campus housing will have to be forgone.

The effects of a mass exodus of lower-income students from campus will be evident extremely fast. As a third year Moody St. resident, I know how difficult club meetings and events can be to attend from a mile and a quarter away in the winter months. If diversity is a strength of a university, then removing that economic perspective from a predominately rich and isolated student-body will be disastrous.

Brandeis is more than just an academic education;

it is supposed to broaden a students perspective. If the you-don't-know-what's-it-like-to-be-poor perspective if removed from campus, it will be everyone's loss. While the University will doubtfully install a satellite dish outside every room nor hang a plasma screen in every mod's common room, they should do everything in their power to keep Brandeis' tuition and room costs as reasonable as possible.