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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Gaps in housing coverage need to be addressed

Published: March 28, 2014
Section: Opinions

Housing is over, and once again it has caused more pain than pleasure and split up more friendships than it has created. There is not enough campus housing to fit everyone in the first place, but the people who will be living on campus have to deal with the ridiculous prices and the limited options.

One new feature this year is that there are no neighborhood pull-ins. Last year, a student could not only pull-in his or her own roommate(s), but could also pull-in students in a room next to him or her in East or the Village. This system allowed a group of friends to all live in the same area even if only one of them had good numbers. Without neighborhood pull-ins, students can choose their roommate, but the rest of their friends may be spread all across campus because of high numbers.

This new change specifically hurts the rising sophomores. Juniors and seniors have more suite-style housing, and while a few sophomores can live in Rosie, most of them have to live in East, the Castle or the Village. Last year, most of my friends chose to live on floors two and three of East, and while I wanted a single in the Castle, I always knew where to go when I wanted to hang out with all of my friends. First-years and their friends, who similarly might have all lived together, will end up living all over campus next year.

Rooming with one’s friends is an underratedly important factor in overall happiness in college life. Living in the Castle I can attest to this. The Castle can be very lonely at times. It’s quiet, and everyone stays in their rooms unless they have to go to the bathroom. 24-hour quiet hours is true nowhere but the Castle. I had to make the effort this year to go and see my friends in East, but it would have been a lot easier to connect with them had I lived next to them. Though I liked having a large space all to myself, I missed seeing my friends all of the time.

College is stressful. When I come back to my room at night after a long day, I want to be able to relax with my friends. Without friends, campus life would be pretty depressing. Yes, one can participate in clubs and activities, but I do not always want to go out of my way to make time for friends. If they live next to me, though, I can easily see them whenever.

On a second note, dorms with kitchens are significantly more expensive than those without them. Soon, everyone who lives on campus is going to be required to have a meal-plan, but then those living with a kitchen have to pay more than their share. As of right now, someone living in a single in East, Castle, Village, North or Massel pays $7,946, and someone living in a double in these locations pays $7,204. Someone living in Ridgewood, the Foster Mods, or a regular single in 567 pays $9,610. The extra $1,664 for a kitchen is much cheaper than paying for a meal plan. Right now, the meal plans start at $3,910 for the Village Plan and $4,930 for the 5 Meal Combo Plan if you live outside the Village. Costs add up for students, and every dollar counts, so there needs to be a response from housing and dining as to how meal plans and housing prices will be altered for this new policy.

I understand the extra price of dorms with kitchens because they cost more to build, but if those students have to have a meal plan, this extra cost is absurd. There is no reason that someone who wants to live on campus in 567, the Mods or Ridgewood, should have to pay for a meal plan and the extra $1,664 for living in a dorm with a kitchen. By all means, if they do not want to cook for themselves, then they should have the option to have a meal plan, but not be required to do so.

Ultimately, this new housing system is a mess that empties students’ wallets and tears them away from their friends. Sophomores do not get to room with all of their friends, and juniors and seniors will soon have to pay not only for the facilities to cook their own food, but for a school meal plan, too. The university is trying to pull a ridiculous scam to make students pay excessively more for their food than the price of what they actually eat. This needs to be addressed before the administration puts it into action.