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BAIME: When Good Housing Goes Bad

By Jacob Baime

Section: Opinions

March 18, 2005

Thank God its over. After the two most stressful weeks of my Brandeis career, I have in my hand the product of countless hours of debate, deliberation, screaming matches, and political maneuvering: my housing confirmation for the 2005-2006 academic year. Before starting my freshman year last fall, a current student warned me about the three worst aspects of life at the university. For all Brandeis has to offer, she disclosed, food, registration and housing are not its strong suits. So to some extent, I anticipated a rough housing selection process, but never did I dream it would turn into the disaster it was for my friends and me.

As the fateful lottery day approached last month, I began to hear the war stories of battle-hardened Brandeis upperclassmen. They promised that housing selection would be a horrible experience. Their fantastic tales of lying, manipulation, and broken friendships seemed unreal. I mostly wrote them off as exaggerated accounts of what I knew must be a more tranquil affair. Of course I hoped to receive a low number in the lottery, but I expected something average and intended to settle for a decent room without much protest. After all, at least sophomores are guaranteed housing.

But lottery day arrived and everything changed in an instant. A good friend opened his mailbox to find an exceptional number. Now, the only challenge facing our group of friends was to choose between Rosenthal North and Rosenthal South. Or so we thought.

It didnt take long for us to fulfill the prophecy of those veteran upperclassmen. Various members of our group had concerns about living with each other, and didnt hesitate to voice them, often inconsiderately. The straw that broke the camels back was when, under pressure, the number-holder rescinded an invitation, thus shattering the group.

Throughout the process, names were called, fingers were pointed, feelings were hurt, and relationships were tested. Since the suite fell apart, I have searched for a lesson from this ordeal, a moral to the story. One friend emphatically assures me that everythings gonna be all right, despite our wounds from the hateful vitriol and the broken spirits of some who were hurt beyond belief. I want to believe him, but, truth be told, things may never be the same among those involved with this debacle.

I now join the crowded ranks of reluctant veterans of the Brandeis housing wars, and I offer this advice to future housing-seekers: securing Brandeis housing will likely remain an arduous endeavor for years to come, but one can enhance the process by demanding that his or her conduct be approved by his conscience every step of the way.

The perfect Rosenthal suite my friends and I once pined for will never be, but I am hopeful that all of us will learn from this experience and better ourselves in the future. I, for one, will take my advice to heart as I make my home next year in East.

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