Housing petition changes leave students with mixed reactions

While the Office of Residential Life says its decision to eliminate Round 3 of housing petitions by accepting both apartment and suite petitions during Round 2 has been initially successful, some students are still reporting displeasure with the housing process.

The change, according to a February interview with Tim Lempfert, the director of housing operations, was meant to expedite the housing assignment process.

“Really, the reason we did that was in an effort to complete our housing selection rounds earlier, in hopes [of having] more housing assignments for next year done earlier in the semester,” Lempfert said.

Students like freshman Rachel Nassau initially didn’t believe the shift would have a large impact on their processes.

“I don’t really know much about the housing process, but I don’t really think that it will make much of a difference for me,” Nassau said.

Lempfert confirmed that, at first glance, it appears that the change has been successful.

“We are still in the midst of the assignment process, so we haven’t been able to do a full analysis yet, but so far it seems like we have been able to assign more students earlier in our process,” Lempfert said.

This summer will provide ample time for ResLife to analyze and assess the change and to consider any possible further changes.

“This summer and fall, we will meet with a group of students to evaluate how the process went and work to determine what, if any, changes may be beneficial,” Lempfert said.

Many students were still left unhappy with the outcome of the lottery. Consistently featuring sharp application and contract-breaking fees, the housing process makes it difficult for unassigned students to rationalize going off campus.

Sophomore Elizabeth Levinson is facing the prospect of being placed with random roommates for her junior year.

“I had a bad [lottery] number, so I didn’t expect good placement for housing,” Levinson said. “They’ve also locked me into this agreement with $950 ($450 for the application, $500 to break contract), so it looks like I’m just going to have to live with whomever they want, wherever they want,” she continued. “I understand [that] they have a lot of students to place, and I know they’re working on it. But not knowing where they’re going to put me and with whom is pretty stressful, this late in the year.”

Sophomore Zoe Handy ultimately secured a bed in on-campus housing, but the process was nerve-racking nonetheless.

“We were a group of four, and we wanted an apartment on campus, but our numbers weren’t great. And it was just a little stressful because it did work out, in total. But if it hadn’t worked out, it would have been nice to have another option,” Handy said. “I think only being able to submit one petition was really stressful for people because if it didn’t work out for them, there was no backup.”

ResLife indicated no clear time frame for when unassigned students will be notified of where they’ve been placed. In a recent email to those students, the Office of Residential Life insisted that its workers will be “working diligently to give everyone an assignment” and are confident that everyone seeking housing will be placed.

“This year, we had more petitions for space in certain [sizes of] suites and apartments than we had spaces available. However, there are enough spaces in ResLife housing when combining the South 40, the North Side and off-campus apartments to accommodate unassigned students,” the email reads.

Additional reporting by Katie Marcus.

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