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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: No more fixer-uppers

Published: March 20, 2009
Section: Opinions

This January, the new Ridgewood dorms opened after over a year of construction. Lucky study abroad returnees and Charles River transplants became the first group of Brandeis students to experience palatial campus living at its best. There’s no doubt that Ridgewood is the dwelling du jour for Brandeis students.

Unfortunately, fewer than 200 students in any given year will have the opportunity to appreciate the university’s new construction. The majority of the upper class population will find themselves living in buildings that are approaching their expiration dates.

Though finances are tight, housing must be made a priority. The new business major and the Justice Brandeis Semester will fail to recruit more intelligent and interesting applicants if these academic opportunities are not matched with better living conditions. When it comes to college admissions, it can be a meal or bedroom that tips the scales.

There is a reason why admissions tours never make a loop around the Charles River apartments. And there is a reason why those tours preview Scheffres rather than East. Furthermore, many of the older buildings on this campus lack acceptable furniture, appliances, or bathroom facilities, not to mention most of them are inaccessible to people with disabilities.

Housing has a profound impact on the sense of campus community and on students’ quality of life. That 300 beds lay empty in Charles River Apartments and the Foster Mods this semester clearly illustrates that for many, quality trumps proximity. There is no doubt that communal life is diminished when more and more students forego campus housing for apartments more distant.

To protect both the Brandeis and Waltham communities, we must commit ourselves to providing adequate housing for the majority of undergraduate students even in this economic climate. This university simply cannot sustain its status as a residential undergraduate college if our housing looks more Soviet than suburban.