Residential Life eliminates homesteading, introduces Living Learning Communities

| News Editor

The 2019-2020 Residential Life housing application will no longer feature “homesteading” for Loft residents and will introduce new Living Learning Communities.

Homesteading allowed students living in the Lofts the option to return to the same unit on the condition they were able to fill the unit with the same people. Residential Life previously made homesteading unavailable to students living in the other Northside areas last year.

Students walk by the Washington University Lofts. The 2019-2020 Residential Life housing application removes the option of homesteading for Lofts residents to result in a more fair housing selection process. ResLife also added an opportunity for students to live in new Living Learning Communities.Katie Ehrlich | Student Life

Students walk by the Washington University Lofts. The 2019-2020 Residential Life housing application removes the option of homesteading for Lofts residents to result in a more fair housing selection process. ResLife also added an opportunity for students to live in new Living Learning Communities.

According to Executive Director of Residential Life Kawanna Leggett, the decision to cut homesteading was made after data showed it decreased housing opportunities for other students.

“The majority of the students who picked the Lofts were actually picking to homestead in one-bedroom apartments. By allowing them to homestead, we were actually decreasing the chances for students to get a single apartment in the Lofts,” Leggett said. “We only had about eight people request homestead in last year’s process for the Lofts. So, the folks that identified homesteading as the option for them actually weren’t able to fill their apartments; and so, we had difficulty placing other students in those units once those folks applied for homestead.”

Leggett believes the elimination of homesteading will result in a fairer housing selection process by preventing students from monopolizing the same apartment.

“As an effort to increase the chances for students to have opportunities to stay in our single apartment Lofts, we did make the decision to remove homesteading as an option,” Leggett said. “We wanted to make this as fair as a process for students who are choosing Lofts as an option for housing selection.”

Loft resident sophomore Nicholas Jarvis feels indifferent towards the decision to cut homestead.

“I don’t care because I want to get a better apartment,” Jarvis said.

Residential Life is also introducing two new Living Learning Communities, in addition to continuing the Hamsini Living Learning Community, which will remain in House 5 for the next academic year.

“These Living Learning Communities are based on a theme where a teacher will place students into a community where living and learning happen,” Leggett said. “We’re excited to continue to have Hamsini as a Living Learning Community and also to allow students to design their own Living Learning Community. Additionally, we are partnering with Women and Gender Studies to introduce Women in STEM as a Living Learning Community.”

According to Associate Director of Residential Life and Director of Housing Operations Will Andrews, Residential Life is also instituting a change in the process to deter students from breaking housing agreements.

“We also made the process where once you pick a process, you have to stick to that process, to make it as fair as it can be. If a student selects that they’re going to participate in a Living Learning Community and they’re approved for a Living Learning Community, they have to accept that offer to be in a Living Learning Community or they go to the back of the line,” Andrews said. “It’s no different from a student who selects to be in our residential college process.”

In an effort to make the housing selection process more transparent and comprehensible to students, Residential Life will continue to host information sessions, roommate mixers and will publish informational videos.

“I’d encourage all of our students to take advantage of the info sessions. Shortly before we get into the depth of housing selection in February, we’re actually going to roll out a step by step video,” Leggett said. “[The video] will be about three minutes to really share what it looks like to go through the housing selection process. We’re really trying to increase our transparency in terms of info sessions and rolling out videos to be a little bit more interactive, too.”

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