Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

Increased beds do not allay housing struggles

The annual struggle accompanying Washington University’s housing lottery has been largely unaffected by changes to Residential and Greek Life that offer more beds for different students.

Students housing is assigned beginning in March. Because of this year’s overenrolled freshman class, the Office of Residential Life is leasing three buildings from Quadrangle Housing to offer more beds. Because of Sigma Phi Epsilon’s continued suspension, the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership has opened its house to all women.

But all the additional off-campus and Sig Ep beds have already been assigned, and some students have still yet to receive campus housing.

Being unfinished with student housing assignments in late April, though, is not unusual, according to Tim Lempfert, associate director of residential life.

“We’re in good shape,” Lempfert said. “We still have a handful of students who have not been assigned yet, but we know that we are going to have enough housing to accommodate those who have yet to be placed. So at this point, what we’re trying to do is work with the individual students or the groups of students that remain and try to get them placed in housing that’s most closely aligned with what they want to have.”

He noted that there are only a few dozen students who have yet to receive housing. But while most have already been assigned, many said they have found the process difficult.

Sophomore Annie Wang has chosen to live off campus after not being able to get on-campus housing with her friends.

“We submitted a petition for five in Millbrook [Apartments], and we had lower numbers than we’d expected, and so it turned out they didn’t have enough spots. We tried to see if we could rearrange and resubmit our petition, but that didn’t work out, so we didn’t end up getting anything,” Wang said.

“We considered doing Round 3, but we were told that we were guaranteed a spot, but not necessarily where we wanted or with the people we wanted to stay with,” she added. “We were really concerned about being split up and figured that we’d rather live together somewhere off campus because it just seemed like a safer choice.”

Lempfert said that while many students may not have received their first choices in Round 2, which is for housing on the North Side, the problem is not worse than last year, just changed.

Last year, Lempfert said, students only had trouble securing three-person or four-person units on the North Side whereas this year, ResLife received too many applications for housing arrangements of nearly every size available.

“In terms of the total number of students who we weren’t able to place in that round, I wouldn’t say that it’s particularly unusual,” Lempfert said. “It just happened to be a more spread-out configuration.”

ResLife, however, is not the only on-campus housing option. And for the past several years, the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, which is in charge of all of the campus fraternity houses, has started to offer housing not only for Greek students.

Since Sigma Alpha Mu was kicked off campus in 2008, House 1’s beds have been used. For the past two years, House 1 has been all-female housing. And because Washington University no longer recognizes Sig Ep, the fraternity’s current house will be similarly repurposed.

House 11 will join House 1 as an all-female community, with most but not all residents being in sororities.

“Because the way some of the structures are, [we didn’t] want to go co-ed with communal bathrooms,” Dave Wallace, coordinator of Greek housing programs and advisor of the Greek Stands Board, said. “And we don’t want our buildings like ResLife runs their buildings, where ResLife kind of is tasked with creating a community and maintaining the community through an RA. With our house managers, they’re more like facility-esque managers.”

“It’s kind of like having your own house with a bunch of your friends—some that you know, some that you don’t—versus a residence hall floor style,” Wallace said.

Wallace said he had chosen to fill House 11—the newer of the two—first, before moving onto House 1. Interested students entered a lottery for the spots on Feb. 27, after which the spots were opened on a first-come, first-serve basis. The office has continued to take housing applications through at least last week.

Wallace said the procedure was essentially borrowed from four years ago.

“We felt like this was the best decision with the short amount of time because people were already looking at housing starting in November, probably October,” Wallace said. “We already had a structure in place for House 1, so we just kind of lobbed it in with House 1 and went forward with that.”

While students are aware of widespread difficulties with housing assignments, many have already been placed and are comfortable with their arrangements for the coming year.

“We got particularly lucky for housing because we had really good lottery numbers, probably because our group lived in [Rubelmann House] freshman year and then Hurd [House],” sophomore Arya Parhar said. “The process of being placed was really seamless for us—we got one of our choices—but I know of a lot of friends that lived in modern dorms both years that ended up having a lot of trouble with their living situations.”

With additional reporting by Divya Kumar.

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  • Anona says:

    A lot of students think that where you live in the past has an effect on lottery numbers. It doesn’t. Also, ResLife guarantees housing for students who stay within the ResLife system. That means people will get housing. Stop complaining if you don’t get your first choice! It is about WHO you live with, not WHERE.

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878