Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

BLOC housing gets more competitive

The Village BLOC housing program has grown in popularity and has experienced a continuing rise in interest from students since its inception in 2001, according to Dan Sepion, a residential college director on the North Side.

“The Village was designed specifically for this program; when the buildings were being built, the planning of the program was in process,” Sepion said.

According to Sepion, Residential Life (ResLife) established BLOC housing as an additional way to enrich the Village community while permitting upperclassmen to carry on the living and learning environment of the South 40.

“[ResLife is] on the cutting edge of living-learning communities in the Village and on the South 40,” Sepion said.

ResLife witnessed a particularly sharp increase in BLOC applicants this spring.

“There was a hard push on advertising. We distributed magnets and attended floor meetings,” Sepion said. “It grew more than we’d expected.”

The buildings in the Village were built in the late ’90s for the purpose of BLOC housing, which was known as Village Interest Housing until the name change in 2006.

This year, 270 of the 310 beds in the Village, which include Village House and Lopata House, will be devoted to BLOC housing. Sepion, who was on the approval panel for the BLOCs, did not have any particular number in mind to allot to the BLOCs when the housing process began.

“We knew, of course, that there could not be more than 310 people housed in BLOCs, but that took care of itself. We cut out quite a few of the BLOC applicants,” he said.

The BLOC application process includes a petition and an interview.

According to the Village’s Web site, prospective BLOCs are expected to have a clear plan for how “Village Housing will benefit the BLOC” and demonstrate the BLOC’s “potential for contributing to the Village community and the greater Washington University community.”

BLOCs are assigned in Round One of the housing selection process, before the rest of applicants submit petitions.

“The BLOC system requires some foresight,” sophomore BLOC resident Melanie Mohn said. “As long as everyone knows that that’s how it works and that it’s an option, I don’t think it’s a problem that some people are assigned housing before others.”

Mohn lives in the “Music Appreciation in St. Louis” BLOC. There are twenty people in her BLOC, and they coordinate one large event per semester and usually one smaller event monthly to explore the music scene in St. Louis.

Mohn says she and her friends never really considered the option of non-BLOC housing in the Village.

“The BLOC system is basically the reason we moved to the North Side. [It] makes it easier to coordinate a lot of people-especially more than six,” she said. “[With the BLOCs] you are guaranteed to live close, probably even on the same floor. It is much harder to coordinate living with more than six people on the South 40.”

Mohn did note, however, that many sophomores were dissatisfied because much of the available housing in the Village has been taken by the BLOC program, a complaint with which Sepion sympathizes.

“We understand that, and we’ll work with them to find housing,” Sepion said. “We’ve crunched the numbers, and we can ensure that at the end of the day there will be housing for everyone.”

Sophomore Eric Duffy was denied housing in the Village, which he attributes to having a bad lottery number. Instead of seeking other on-campus housing, Duffy found housing off-campus through an online source.

Arian Hassanalizadeh, a current freshman who will be living in a BLOC called the “Melting BLOC” with a focus on diversity and sports, says he was surprised that his BLOC was approved, since most of the BLOC housing is allotted to incoming juniors.

According to Sepion, while 70 percent of the BLOC residents next year are incoming juniors, they do not have priority for BLOCs.

Sepion suggests there are more juniors in BLOCs because more of them apply.

Hassanalizadeh considers the BLOC system a good arrangement. His BLOC will have a ping-pong table, a big-screen television and $50 per person fee to fund events.

“[We would be expected] to put on events for the school such as movies and dinners,” he said.

Hassanalizadeh was motivated to seek BLOC housing because he did not want to remain in his residential college.

“If I didn’t want to live in my [residential] college, it’d be tough to figure out and get what you want. [My friends and I] just all wanted to live together. So we thought, ‘Why not form a BLOC?'” Hassanalizadeh said.

Print This Post Print This Post

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Student Life is the independent student newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis. Keep in touch with Washington University by subscribing to an RSS feed of our stories or an RSS feed of our comments. Privacy Policy | Comments Policy | Web Policy