On housing: It’s not personal

Isabelle Gillman | Contributing Writer

I, like a lot of Washington University students, hate the housing process. As a student on financial aid, a Pell Grant recipient and a federal work-study student, my scholarship covers a modern room and a meal plan, which is exactly what the Village and Lopata Houses can offer me. Wash. U. says that housing is “guaranteed for all four years,” but is this true?

Each year, the University accepts more and more students, and consequently fewer rooms become available; case in point: Village House and Lopata House are now majority sophomores, rather than the Village being primarily juniors and seniors. If an upperclassman wants to live in the Village, which is closer to main campus and arguably safer than off-campus housing, they most must now pay thousands more for an apartment, rather than simply a dorm in Village House or Lopata. (The Greenway Apartments cost the same as Village and Lopata Houses, but are located on Washington Avenue, about three blocks off-campus.) My situation left me wondering: Am I less of a priority to the school as an upperclassman? As a student on financial aid?

I am lucky: Many students who receive financial aid don’t have a modern dorm included in their scholarship. Freshmen in Lee or Beaumont Hall, the notorious “traditional” dorms, which are notably cheaper than modern ones, do not get any preference for their sophomore year housing placement. As a result, most are moved into the farthest dorms on the South 40 like Wheeler House and Shepley House, which are the same distance from main campus as the cheaper upperclassman off-campus housing options like Greenway. I’m sure the school does not purposely want to make housing harder for lower-income students, but why are those requesting cheaper housing forced to live as far as possible from main campus?

While it does not seem like Wash. U.’s personal “housing crisis” will be solved any time soon, I still find it important to address the clear and repeating problems in the housing process. Each year, students say that they have been “f—ed over by housing,” but they should not have to be. With all of the work students have to do each semester, especially in the spring semester with having to secure internships while balancing classes, housing should not be yet another source of stress for Wash. U.’s students—and something should be done about it.

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