The issue with housing

September 23, 2016

As we continue to adjust to the new semester and prepare ourselves for the first round of midterms, we have all, for the most part, cozied into our rooms as best as we can. Our residence halls are a hub of a place to sleep, a pantry to store snacks and an area to study all in one. Some of us were more fortunate than others with the type of room we got, while some have their heads in their hands crying, “Why, oh, why is the housing the way it is?”

At Brandeis, as we have all come to be familiar with, the housing system is based on a lottery for rising sophomores through rising seniors. Students who live in a quad with access to kitchens, especially those in Grad, get the worst end of the deal, because students living in these areas, in addition to paying a higher housing cost, are now also required to have meal plans, despite the fact that they pay for kitchens where they could cook less expensive food.

If all else fails, the worst case scenario is that a student is not guaranteed housing on campus—which is extraordinarily stressful.

The issue of not being able to provide housing for all students is unfortunate, especially for those who are on financial aid, because once they move off campus there is the possibility of receiving less financial aid proportionate to expenses. But aside from the idea of possibly having to find a place off campus, there are other equally pressing issues that come up regarding the housing situation.

For one, housing numbers are released right around the time of the last midterms, when tensions are high as they can be. With the added burden of hoping that one’s not-so-pleasant housing number could possibly get them a room in which they will be able to survive, the atmosphere around campus gets a tad hostile. This is not to mention the endless drama that ensues, especially when it comes to selecting suites for juniors and seniors. It becomes a matter of ranking who your top friends are, who your more reliable friends are and who you have a better chance of staying friends with despite having to share a common space with them for a whole year.

Oftentimes I hear my friends and peers saying that they wish Brandeis had a different housing system: something that was more efficient and accommodated everyone in a fair manner. People are then quick to mention our neighboring school, Bentley, and its housing system which is based on a credit system, incorporating total number of credits taken, with additional “credits” given for being on the dean’s or president’s list.

I must admit, at first I applauded that system. After all, people who work hard deserve to get something in return, right? Unfortunately, the issue with the credit system is that someone who is taking a heavier course load of easier classes may have more credits than someone who has a variety of fewer, more difficult classes. Furthermore, if housing were based on a credit system with additional points for dean’s list (a higher GPA) at Brandeis, then that would imply that if a student does poorly one semester due to whatever reason, they may have to live off campus, and thus end up further away from the resources that would best allow them to improve in their academics. Thankfully, Brandeis does not employ such a system which saves us all from getting into a sort of cutthroat mentality.

With all of that being said, I have wondered what the best system is for housing. The lottery system is not as bad as it seems. If anything, it keeps everyone equal by letting everything be dependent on chance. The issue with it is that there are not enough places to give all of the students rooms, which is rather ridiculous. How can the university enroll all of these students but at the same time cannot give them the assurance that they will have a place to stay on campus, or if they do have a place to stay on campus, that it won’t be falling apart before their eyes?

Honestly, the only real solution to the housing issue is for Brandeis to build new residence halls and renovate old ones that will allow all of its students to live on campus comfortably. To anyone who says there isn’t adequate space or money for it, they should look again.

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