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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Student Affairs to fix housing crisis

This year’s room draw left 91 first-years in housing limbo, without a dorm room for next semester. Every year, a handful of first-years with low room draw numbers must wait until summer to learn their housing information, but this year hit an all time high, according to Andrea Conner, Assistant Dean of Students.

“We heard a couple of months ago that Admission was planning on trying to bring in a class of 450 first-years, which is a little bigger than this last year,” Conner said. “We could tell immediately that if we needed 450 beds for first-years, we wouldn’t have enough beds in doubles for the second-years.”

Residence Life set aside enough housing for the possibility of 450 incoming first-years. For this reason, double rooms ran out before the class of 2014 finished room draw.

“Sure enough,” Conner said, “After Sunday we do have 91 current second-semester first-years who did not have a room after room draw. There are an additional 16 second-semester first-years who took a room but have asked to be added to the wait list for a room that more closely aligns with their preferences.”

There are actually about eight doubles left open on campus, but because all doubles are in Norris, the rising second-years chose to put themselves on a waitlist rather than take one of those rooms, according to Conner.

“[Those students] decided to instead take their chances on trying to see if something else comes open,” Conner said. “I think the one reality that we did explain to them is that someone will live in those rooms, it might be the 16 of you with the worst room draw numbers, but someone will use them eventually, [though] we’ll try to meet other peoples’ needs before that.”

Now, the College must wait and see how many students accept Grinnell’s offer to enroll, after the May 1 deadline.

In preparation for 450 new first-years next fall, Residence Life informed those on the off-campus waitlist that they might be released from the residency requirement, according to Conner.

Even though allowing more students to live off-campus opens up doubles and singles on campus, Conner hopes Residence Life won’t have to resort to converting lounges into rooms or turning doubles into triples.

“For us, that’s a worst case scenario because we have to invest college resources into converting the room and it’s temporary housing, which is never as satisfying as a real room, so it’s kind of a lose-lose,” she said.

As the year wraps up, so do housing arrangements, and Residence Life will assign those in need of a room based on their preferences and room draw number.

“People will start hearing [about housing] anywhere between a week from now up until July,” Conner said. “One of the things that we are communicating to the people on the wait list is to do their best to stay calm if they don’t know their room for next year until the summer. We will be working through the wait list as quickly and thoughtfully as possible.”

Many first-years without a housing assignment for next year are confused, but they know they’ll eventually have a home. Samah Shda ’14 went into room draw with a specific room in mind, but came out with nothing.

“We were very surprised [and] disappointed—we didn’t expect to have a lot of people just roomless,” Shda said. “If we don’t get exactly what we wanted, they’ll just offer us what they have and we’ll have to take the thing that is best for us.”

Residence Life drew student criticism earlier this semester when some students returning mid-year were denied permission to live off-campus. More recently, many students were denied the chance to live off-campus next year.

The difference that students may perceive is that this year 240 students requested permission to live off-campus, according to Conner. Considered as a percentage of all seniors, this number is barely above average, but the class of 2012 is so large that this led to more initial waitlisting than in the past.

“This year, a misconception that’s out there is that we’ve changed our policy or that we dramatically reduced the number of people that we’re letting off campus,” Conner said. “It’s actually the opposite; we’ve actually released people at a faster rate than we did last year.”

By now, all of the rising seniors who requested to live off-campus have been approved, as have several rising juniors.

Shaun Peters ’14 is trying to embrace the uncertainty. He entered room draw hoping to live somewhere on South Campus and left without a room assignment.

“I was expecting to at least get a room, even if it was a bad room,” Peters said. “I was worried the first day, but I can’t do anything about it, so why stress myself out about it?”

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