The Collegian
Saturday, April 13, 2024

Students fret over difficult housing decisions

Finding enough beds for returning students who studied abroad was not easy this semester, but in the end everyone was housed, Carolyn Bigler, assistant director of undergraduate student housing, said.

For returning students who were abroad, finding housing can be difficult, she said. If the number of students who went abroad exceeds the number of available beds on campus then the headaches begin, she said.

Just because students who went abroad had housing when they left does not guarantee them a bed when they return, she said. It's all based on age, scholar students and lottery numbers and for those that don't make the cut, a waiting list, she said.

This year's wait list was longer than last year's and ended up being two pronged; first, overflow students who didn't have a bed on campus were moved into two houses on Bostwick Lane and second, the students who the school didn't have space for at all, Bigler said. (The university was able to figure out a plan to allow students to live in two off-campus houses in a nearby neighborhood because of the lack of beds.)

After a sudden flurry of events during winter break, spaces on campus opened up allowing students originally put in the Bostwick houses to move back to campus and those students who were unable to be housed at all to move into the Bostwick houses, Bigler said. Basically everyone moved forward one tier on the wait list.

Transfers, academic suspensions and graduates all contribute to open beds for the spring, but those beds usually don't open up until after grades come out during winter break, Bigler said.

"Students are anxious for room assignments when they come back from abroad, yet we can't identify enough beds or there aren't any," until the end of winter break, she said.

This year's saving grace was several female students who were abroad that decided to live off campus when they returned.

"If those women didn't live off campus we wouldn't have had enough beds," Bigler said.

Junior Markie Martin was one of the female students who decided to bypass all of the trouble and uncertainty and live off campus.

"It wasn't even a decision for us," Martin said, referring to her roommate, Kate Heyer.

As confusing as this whole process is, Joan Lachowski, director of undergraduate student housing, also said that beyond the availability issue is the roommate issue. Often, returning students want to live with a person of their choosing in a place of their choosing, but in an effort to be fair, lottery numbers dominate the system and wishes aren't always met, she said.

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Foreseeing this issue, Martin and Heyer said they knew they did not want to be separated and decided to pair up during the annual housing meeting Bigler holds each spring before the coming wave of students leave.

During this meeting, Bigler told the students the process for housing returning students and warned some may end up in freshman halls, which didn't sit well with students like Martin.

"I wasn't going to sign myself up to live in a lounge," she said.

For Martin it all worked out.

"It's kind of like living on campus anyway because so many people live at Horsepen," she said.

But, for other students like junior Robin Hawbaker, it wasn't such a happy ending. She stuck with the lottery system and is now living in Moore Hall.

"Obviously I'm not thrilled to be living in a freshman dorm, but it's kind of expected to receive housing that isn't ideal when returning from abroad," she said.

Contact reporter Rachael Bilney at rachael.bilney@richmond.edu

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