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Find meaningful solutions to housing problems

By Nicole Porter

Section: Opinions

March 4, 2016

Ziv, Rosie, Ridgewood, East, Castle, Mods, Grad, Massell, North and Village: the places we have seen many times and maybe even dreamed of living in during our time at Brandeis. When you are an incoming first-year you have no choice of where you end up living. You barely know the difference between Massell and North and all you can do is cross your fingers and hope you don’t get the dreaded “forced triple.” As my first year slowly creeps towards its end, though, I have a choice of where I get to live next year. But what seems like a great opportunity to live in a nice place with friends can turn into a nightmare of hoping for a good number and fighting for decent housing.

The housing lottery at first seemed like a mystery to soon-to-be sophomores like myself. But after the barely successful mass chaos of the spring semester course selection, I’m not optimistic. The housing lottery seems to be Hunger Games for shelter. You hope not to get a high number, but if you do you are thrown into a battle for decent housing or, if you are a junior or senior, any on-campus housing at all. Sophomores have it easy; the worst-case scenario is a single back in Massell or North. Upperclassmen risk having to search Waltham and the surrounding area for housing.

Even if you do get housing you could end up paying around $8,000 a year for a small room you share with another person, no air conditioning and constantly changing heat. That same price will also land you four showers and six toilets to share with 22 other people. Although the Department of Community Living is at least attempting to fix the system by suggesting new proposals, like the “Loyalty Plan,” they all seem to fall short of what we need.

One solution that seems simple enough if implemented over a long period of time is to simply fix the “bad” housing and increase the number of residence halls on campus.

With the imminent dismantling of the Castle in the spring and summer of 2017, Brandeis is offered a unique opportunity to help fix its housing problem. At the moment the Castle can house around 120 people. When the university builds a new residence hall in the Castle’s place, it could build one similar in size and occupancy to the Village to nearly double the number of occupants in the Castle area.

In addition to building new residence halls, DCL should take the initiative to renovate the older ones. No one should have to live in a dorm that is considered “bad.” Just by adding air conditioning and better heating systems, updating the showers and getting rid of the “East bugs” could improve the standard of living in residence quads like East, North and Massell significantly. “Bad” housing should not be a problem at this university; each dorm should be relatively up to date and enjoyable to live in.

We should not be sitting in the cold hoping that the university turns on the heat or hoping for a low enough number to actually live on the campus where we go to school. We should not have to fight for a place to live and there should not be any place on campus that is not considered a decent place to live. The Department of Community Living is trying to create quick fixes for those who are opposed to the housing lottery when instead they should be focusing on fixing the housing problems on campus. Until they fix these problems, all we can do is hope and wait.

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