Room vacancy, new roommate not wanted

October 2, 2009

ROOMMATES INTErRUPTED: Ziv suitemates Ben Sacks ‘10 and Steve Sasmor ‘10 have an empty bedroom in their suite after a suitemate moved out to save money. They hope Community Living does not drop a ‘random’ in their suite, thereby negatively affecting roommate cohesion. <br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

ROOMMATES INTErRUPTED: Ziv suitemates Ben Sacks ‘10 and Steve Sasmor ‘10 have an empty bedroom in their suite after a suitemate moved out to save money. They hope Community Living does not drop a ‘random’ in their suite, thereby negatively affecting roommate cohesion.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

If you’re an upperclassman, you probably recall the days when arranging for on-campus housing after returning from study abroad wasn’t a concern. You participated in the housing lottery, hoped for a good number and filled up a suite, knowing you would have a spot when you got back.

However, the new housing policy – instituted this year – has created some complications in housing arrangements, leaving students studying abroad for the fall unsure of whether or not housing will be available for them on campus in the spring.

In the meantime, back at Brandeis, there have been several instances of vacancies in upperclassmen housing, causing some students housing uncertainty of their own as they wait for their vacancies to be filled by strangers.

Occupancy of the Village might determine whether empty suites get filled. Starting this year, students planning to study abroad in the spring were placed in the Village so the vacancies they will create in upperclassmen housing can be filled by the incoming midyear class.

According to the community living Web site, the Village can house 220 students in doubles and singles.

Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy said in an e-mail to The Hoot that there are 87 midyears expected to move in this spring, though she expects that number to increase by January.

This leaves countless people returning from abroad, people unhappy with their living situation and those who decided not to go abroad to compete for the remaining spots in the Village and elsewhere. And that does not include the many sophomores living in first-year quads or in the Charles River Apartments.

There are several “dingles” (a double with only one occupant) in the Village, and vacancies in many Ziv suites. One such Ziv is inhabited by Ben Sacks ’10, whose Ziv was initially full, but now has a vacancy after his sixth suitemate decided to live off campus for financial reasons.

“We received an e-mail mid September from the [Community Development Coordiantor] for Ziv that we could expect our [Ziv] to be filled,” Sacks said.

However, that last suitemate has yet to materialize; a fact Sacks isn’t at all unhappy about. After receiving the initial news from their CDC, Sacks and his suite mates sent back an e-mail of their own saying they would rather not have the vacancy occupied by a stranger.

When asked his reasoning for this request, Sacks cited suite dynamics as his biggest problem with placing students in any random vacancy.

“The idea of having an unknown was not pleasant because we have a dynamic – that’s why we live with each other,” he said. “If you are happy with the people you live with in a suite and you get along, it’s scary to think of adding someone with whom the group might not get along.”

Sacks cited other things such as cleanliness, mutual friends, and sleeping habits that might stray from pre-existing suite dynamics.

David Perlow ’11 who is spending the semester in Madrid, Spain echoed Sacks’ concerns.

“It would definitely create an awkward situation for a new person coming into an environment where people have gained a sense of familiarity with each other,” he said.

Deborah Taied ’11, who is spending this semester in Copenhagen, Denmark, might become that odd student out come January. Uncertain of her housing situation for the spring semester, Taied is currently dealing with the possibility of moving in as a stranger among a pre-existing group of friends, though she hopes that won’t be the case.

“Me and [my friend] who is abroad right now requested to live together if there were only doubles [in the Village] available,” she said.

The study abroad Web site states that students studying abroad in the fall semester, as in years past, “are not guaranteed housing when they return.”

Instead, their main priority is to “house the incoming midyear students as a group.”

But Taeid remembers when the study abroad housing system was more user-friendly.

“I had just thought I would take the spot of a friend going [abroad] in the spring like past years since the number of students going away in the spring traditionally outnumbers those in the fall,” she said. Now she doesn’t know what she’ll do.

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