Discontent brews among students about housing process

If all goes as planned, Rubelmann Hall will be demolished this summer. The result is growing discontent amongst students seeking affordable on-campus housing.

Until construction on Rubelmann’s replacement is complete, there will be fewer beds on the South 40, resulting in more sophomores being pushed into the Village House and Lopata House.

At a panel hosted by the Congress of the South 40, Director of Housing Operations Tim Lempfert said that the new Rubelmann building will be of the same modern style that the University has been building more recently. For next year, a modern double on the South 40 costs $10,486 annually, while a traditional double will have an annual cost of $9,482. A single in the Village and Lopata Houses goes for $11,880 per year.

Lempfert also mentioned the addition of gender-inclusive housing on the South 40 beginning this summer, which means that underclassmen will be able to choose roommates regardless of gender.

The questions raised during the event ranged from those regarding financial equality among housing options to the displacement of this year’s rising sophomores from the South 40. The event drew about 20 students.

Sophomore Morgan Ippolito asked the panel of members of the Office of Residential Life about the increased pressure on the Village apartments to house underclassmen and what that means for upperclassmen that have traditionally lived there.

“I feel like [the class below us] is continually pushing us out of housing that has been traditionally offered to people of our year,” Ippolito said. “If…I want to live with ResLife all four years, can you guarantee that?”

Lempfert explained that in any given year there will always be a group that goes last, which is the nature of a lottery.

“The way our lottery is structured, our strongest preference for suites is for our younger students and our strongest preference for apartments are our oldest students,” Lempfert said.

Lempfert said that the residential life process maintains a set of priorities that they tend to follow, but trying to keep groups of students close together drives a majority of the decisions made.

“We belie ve in our model that it is more important who you live with than the actual building that you are assigned,” Lempfert said.

Freshman Hannah Marias, however, complained that the interests of freshmen living in Lee and Beaumont were not being taken into account. While most freshman residential halls are complete with matching sophomore dorms on the South 40, the Lee/Beau Residential College has no sophomore house on the South 40 for which they have sole preference.

“The fact that you kind of broke up Lee/Beau, I think that implies that you relied a little too much on data and not the psychology of different floor styles,” Marias said.

Panelists responded by explaining that there are plans over the next year or so to discuss issues such the Residential College system, the uniformity of housing prices and the debate between modern and traditional dorm construction, in depth.

Junior Aashna Narang, CS40 director of services and member of this year’s housing task force, said that she feels student opinions have been integral in the housing process.

“I found that anything that I said was really taken very seriously,” Narang said. “I had a few friends come up to me and ask if I could share their stories and all of those things were taken into account, and there were solid steps made to move forward to…move new things into place that would make this process easier.”

Sophomore Lucy Chin, speaker of the CS40 executive board, explained the importance of hosting the event during these times of changing circumstances.

“We had anecdotally heard that there were issues with housing this year,” Chin said. “We thought it would be a good use of our platform to connect administration and students so that they could have a really good candid conversation that might not happen as informally in any other situation.”

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Alex SiegmanComment