How to get the best of your housing experience

| Forum Editor
(Erin Mitchell | Student Life)

(Erin Mitchell | Student Life)

February fills our calendars with the start of exams and heavier work loads; we remember influential African-Americans during Black History Month; and Valentine’s Day serves as a reminder to the couples about how very lucky they are while pushing the rest of us into a depression. In addition, there is one more element to this month that many Wash. U. students find particularly daunting.

February marks the beginning of the pandemonium that is the housing selection process at Wash. U. For those of you who have not experienced the insanity, I will try to paint a picture that might do it justice.

There are tears and fights, friendships are lost, and loyalties are tested.

Now I realize this resembles a byline for a bad movie, but bear with me and you might just appreciate the reality—it’s worse. The housing process is not unlike February itself in the way it creeps up, unexpectedly. Over winter break, a seemingly harmless postcard arrived at my home, only to be lost in the shuffle of bigger envelopes and holiday packages. It eventually found its place on my kitchen table basking in innocence and light from my ceiling fan. And it was there that I noticed its Wash. U. return address. I turned it over with no warning of what I would find on the back.

Housing Selection Begins Feb. 18, 2010.

The terror of last year’s housing selection process came back to me with all-too-poignant clarity. “Questions?” the card read. “Please contact Residential Life.” OK, Residential Life, can you answer me this? What if I want to live with Becca and Cary and Melissa, but Becca won’t live with Cary and Cary won’t live without me? Becca wants to live with me, Johanna, Rachel, Parker and Alex, but Johanna and Rachel won’t live with six people—what do I do? How do I tell Jamie that Laura doesn’t want to live with her, and how do I tell Laura not to worry because Jamie doesn’t want to live with her either? (It doesn’t mean we’re not friends anymore, Jamie, but thanks for being so mature about it.) What if my excuses run out? How do you respond to “It’s not you, it’s me,” or “You’re still my best friend, but I just couldn’t live with you”? What do I do with the non-committers, the over-committers and those who are in denial?

Until ResLife is ready to offer some advice of their own, here is mine.

Like everything else that tends to get blown out of proportion, deciding on living arrangements will only be as catty and dramatic as you make it. Becca will still be your friend if you choose to live with Cary, and no matter where you live, you are still going to make it to class on time, even if it means taking the campus circulator a little earlier.

The fight and tears will only make move-in day that much sweeter. It is then that you’ll realize that no matter with whom you live, your roommates will drive you crazy. It could be your best friend or a stranger, but at some point you will wish you had chosen the other suite, infamous plan B, your second option. Know this and trust that nothing can be perfect, but it will never be as bad as you think. Except for you, Rachel. I’m sorry, but you’re right. Your roommates really are from hell.

Alissa is a sophomore in Arts & Sciences. She can be reached via e-mail at arrotbla@artsci.wustl.edu.