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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Housing; the bane of all friendships

Published: March 7, 2014
Section: Opinions

Ladies and gentlemen, hold onto your hats. This weekend is the start of housing selection for the coming year.

As a first-year diving into the process head first, I have heard plenty of horror stories. I’ve heard everything from, “Don’t live in East. That’s where all the CRAZIES live,” to “Only the anti-social kids live in the Village.” Its hard enough to make a decision that impacts the next school year, but to hear outrageous stories from upperclassmen doesn’t help. No one wants to end up in an uncomfortable living situation. All this negativity creates the feeling of being cornered.

One of my friends jokingly suggested that the housing process be run according to GPA. This is on the harsh side of the spectrum, but I think she was onto something. If not GPA, perhaps by major. By major, I mean dorming near your classes. For example, if most of your classes are in the science complex or the music building you should be able to live in dorms like the Village, Ridgewood or Ziv. If your classes are in Rabb quad you should dorm in East or the Castle.

Two minute time slots are ridiculous. I understand that they want to make the process quicker and more efficient, but who can make such an important decision in that little time? What if your choice of room is unavailable? Two minutes does not give you adequate time to assess all of the remaining choices you do have. In fact, once your two minutes have expired, the person in the time slot behind you can swoop in and take your room right out from under you. This system is breeding anxiety.

My upperclassmen friends have told me that the process has always been one of the most stressful times of the year. Especially alongside midterm season. This new automated system looks to make it even worse.

I know many people, including myself, that had everything planned out early. We talked to everyone we thought would be a good match and settled down in comfortable roommate groups. Then the Department of Community Living held information sessions and told us neighbor pull-ins would no longer be possible. Over the February break the numbers came out, and things got ugly. Some of my friends had formed alliances before the break and came back to find out that their group had decided to drop them without telling them, for someone with a better number. Another group of friends discovered that only one member had a decent number and they were going to have to split up and hope for the best.

With this new automated process, losing the ability to pull in your friends has made things harder. While I understand that this is the first year of the online program and that it was meant to simplify the lives of all involved, neighborhood pull-ins were the one part of the previous method that worked. Basically, you need one friend to team up with. Bigger groups are only possible if someone gets a high enough number for a Rosie or Castle suite. But we all know that these spots are limited and the lottery is the luck of the draw. In the past, although everyone did not always end up living exactly where they wanted, with pull-ins, you knew that you had a good friend right across the hall or just next door. There was no worry of living far away from a friend or feeling lonely in a new dorm. I know that some people will suggest the seemingly simple solution of just making new friends. This is not always easy, especially when friends groups are already established.

This process puts a lot of stress on friendships. You get to the point where someone has to be dropped. Its hard to decide who gets hurt. Someone always gets burned. Its especially bad when one person in a group gets a good number but cannot bring everyone with them. How do you choose that person without causing a rift in a friendship? It is a horrible position to put someone in.

One of the main reasons I was drawn to Brandeis was the sense of community. When I was looking at colleges, I noticed that Brandeis was nationally ranked as one of the colleges with the happiest kids. The kindness and school-spirit of the students was definitely a factor in my decision to attend this school. The new housing process does not add to the overall sense of community on campus. If anything, it is destroying it. It is creating a dog-eat-dog world and this process is forcing friends apart.