This perspective is meant to be a criticism of the housing decisions made by Resident Life this year, not an attack towards any individual housing group. We are glad our speciﬁc group received a house and would like to direct attention to the process of housing decisions rather than the outcomes themselves.This past week, Residence Life released their decision about small group housing to the housing groups through campus mail. Our housing group applied for Howell, Valesco, and East Hall, in that order. We received East Hall, and are grateful that we received a house when other groups may not have. However, we take issue with the way in which these decisions were made.
Many of our issues with Residence Life go back to the decision to eliminate three houses from the small group housing pool. This created more competition for the remaining houses and ensured that only a select few groups received their ﬁrst choice. We do not believe that this constitutes diversity. We understand that removing houses is a difficult decision, but believe that in doing this, the college created unbalanced, elite housing groups.
Our second issue with the housing decision is that only two of the four former co-ed houses now house co-ed groups. We believe that co-ed groups who are applying for small group housing should get priority over single-gender groups applying for the same house. Coed houses are a simple way to build community and maintain diversity. Residence Life squanders this opportunity to bring genders together when they award co-ed houses to single gender groups. There are circumstances where single-gender groups should be awarded coed houses, but we believe diverse groups should be given priority.
Communication was also an issue this year, as it was last year, between Residence Life and the housing groups. When groups received their letters in campus mail, they only stated which house their group received, or if they did receive a house at all. In order to form an effective community, Residence Life should communicate why a group received a house, or why they did not. Leaving this vital information out creates speculation over the criteria that Residence Life uses to select groups.
Next, the point system Residence Life uses to select housing groups is woefully unclear. The Residence Life website provides criteria that is used to determine housing selections. This criteria is very straightforward. However, if this is the criteria that is used, why do groups produce a creative video about their members? The video takes an enormous amount of time, and if creativity is not part of the decision process, why can a simple application not suffice? If, however, the process is based on other criteria as well, why is that not stated? Communication between Residence Life and the student body is a key part of community building.
Communication is further damaged by Residence Lifeʼs refusal to admit fault. Last year, a housing group was asked to remove a member from their group. This is more like the TV show “Survivor” than community. This year, our housing group was assigned a house that would fail to meet our capacity needs. Instead of apologizing for the error, Residence Life took a tone that bordered on the accusatory. It seemed they blamed our group for being assigned a house unable to meet our needs. Fortunately, a double occupancy room was assigned to house three people, so our group is now able to reside in East Hall.
We understand that housing selection is a difficult decision to make, however we believe that these are valid issues that Residence Life needs to address in order to better serve the student community.
Thank you for your eyes.