ResLife completely bungles housing situation
As each new class entering Washington University grows larger, the residential life housing options become increasingly contested. While this is a necessary side effect of a growing University community, this is also a problem that should have been solved.
The solution came to fruition with the announced opening of the Lofts of Washington University at Delmar Boulevard and Enright Avenue in fall 2014. The Lofts will house 550-600 residents in 240-265 apartments and should fill up with upperclassmen looking to live on the Loop and sophomores trying to escape the South 40. Problem solved, right?
Well, the Office of Residential Life actually created some more issues. First, ResLife announced that the demolition of Rubelmann House will begin at the end of the semester. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since Ruby has been slated for renovation for years. However, the residential hall is home to 140 freshmen, and finding a place for these new students becomes an issue. To solve that problem, ResLife announced that Hurd House, Rutledge House and the third floor of Wheeler House will be held for freshmen only. Second, students wishing to remain with ResLife will not be able to live in several off-campus residential complexes, including Little Horseshoe, Big Horseshoe and Waterman Court and two houses on Pershing Avenue. The office is not behaving as if it is expecting a housing crunch in the future.
Worse than cutting necessary beds, ResLife is forcing students to pay for the astronomically expensive options that remain. With Little Horseshoe, Waterman Court and Pershing 1 eliminated, the only off-campus options remaining that cost less than $10,000 annually are University Drive, University Terrace and a two-bedroom suite in Rosedale. Meanwhile, the new Lofts will cost $12,566 for a multi-bedroom apartment and $13,510 for a single-bedroom apartment. While students will inevitably be paying for the luxury of a brand-new space, they deserve more low-budget housing options.
Further, these changes will fundamentally alter the freshman experience for a handful of unfortunate students. One of the greatest charms of freshman year was getting to know your floormates in one common area; students living in Hurd, Rutledge and Wheeler will have common rooms of their own and could be less likely to socialize beyond their own walls. New students living on the third floor of Wheeler will be thrust into a building full of older students and separated from other members of their incoming class—not exactly the most welcoming living situation.
Expansion of the University is a good thing—it means that the Washington University name will be even more recognizable to prospective students. However, this expansion should not come at the expense of the freshman experience or the community as a whole. Many students at Wash. U. have great memories of their years on campus because of the relationships fostered in the first year. Sacrificing the quality of these experiences for even a handful of incoming freshmen should not have been considered as an option and is unacceptable.