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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Housing process needs review

Published: March 4, 2011
Section: Editorials, Top Stories

Every year March brings a madness to Brandeis completely separate from the NCAA basketball tournament. As students scramble to make sense of their housing lottery numbers, friendships are made with people whose names you barely knew a week before and close friendships are torn to shreds over who makes the cut for a four person Ridgewood. Many students are left to wander through finding their own housing in Waltham.

Every year, housing is a stressful process. We realize that no matter what is done short of building more student housing, this will still be the case. There are, however, some quick-fixes that the Department of Community Living could employ in order to bring some sanity to the madness.

Perhaps the easiest solution would be to publish statistics of at which housing number each dorm (or quad) was filled in last year’s housing lottery. Publishing which numbers got the last Ridgewoods, Zivs, Mods and Grads, would at the very least allow students a reasonable idea of what they can expect. There are numerous horror stories of friend groups who were planning on living in six person suites but who cut out two friends when it came time to select housing because a more desirable, yet smaller, option became available. While no student would be as foolhardy as to believe that these numbers were set in stone for this year’s lottery, it would allow informed decisions to be made and for “Plan Bs” to be created before the scramble that is housing selection at the end of the month.

Additionally, it would be less stressful if there were less time between when numbers are released and when housing is chosen. Information travels fast on a college campus, and within the first week or two everyone knows their situation. There is no reason to prolong suffering and allow people to wonder aimlessly about which rooms will be filled for another two weeks.

Currently, many students opt to live off campus before housing selection has taken place out of fear that if the lottery does not end in their favor, there will be no desirable off-campus options left. Given that Brandeis students already flood the Waltham housing market due to a lack of on-campus housing and given the university’s budget problems, one would think the university would want to ensure that as many students as possible participate in on-campus housing.

Additionally, Brandeis students living off campus are inherently cut off from the Brandeis experience that makes on campus housing so desirable. Other colleges, such as the University of Michigan, have large and spread out campuses and while they don’t ensure housing for nearly as high a percentage as Brandeis does, the spread out nature of their campuses provides many options for private housing within the general university area.

The Waltham Crystal Shuttle/BranVan route severely limits the area within which students without cars can look for housing. However, if the campus shuttle service were to expand, students without cars would obtain a greater area search for housing.

We aren’t asking for miracles. We aren’t asking for new dormitories that we know the university cannot afford. Housing will always be a headache, but it doesn’t have to be a migraine.