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Housing seniority only the first step

Editorial | University should do more to address housing process issues

Recently, the University Housing and Residence Life has declared its intention to take into account the year of housing applicants, citing feedback it has received from leadership groups and academic groups alike. The major point that kept arising has been the advantage that upperclassmen should be entitled to in the housing process. The decision to weigh seniority in housing decisions is definitely an improvement on the process.

This decision has been received with relief among many students that felt it has been a long time coming. The housing process has long been criticized as being flawed and unfair, and taking seniority into account is a step toward assuaging this problem. However, it is only a step, as further issues have come into question as this new housing process prepares to be implemented.

While it is necessary to take applicants’ years into consideration, other factors deserve to be taken into account as well. Among many other things, preference should be given to students that are out of state or live farther away. Further, it is questionable whether allotting seniority to a point system would be more efficient than simply allowing upperclassmen to choose their housing first. The point system itself may become even more complicated or dismissive of students’ needs, as it has been in the past.

The new housing decision also comes with reverse-preference, giving the advantage to first-year students and sophomores when it comes to applying to suites and doubles. While this seems like a move that will ensure the housing of all students, it also disregards seniors that may prefer living in residence halls rather than apartments. There is also a fear of too many upperclassmen choosing to stay on-campus, thereby pushing many underclassmen off-campus. We also cannot ignore the fact that sophomores and juniors still remain in a limbo, with so much attention being drawn to first-year students and seniors that the “middle-classmen” may find it hard to navigate.

Overall, the housing process needs more consistency in order to remain fair, balanced and attentive. While progress is being made in the right direction, we are only replacing a flawed system with a less flawed system that continues to disregard many factors of college life for students in need of housing. Moving forward, RHA should continue to examine ways to make housing on campus more accomodating — and equitable — for students of all class years.

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