Independent students feel lack of community in housing modelIndependent students are still voicing concern about a lack of community in houses following the second year of room selections.
Dean for Residential Life Joe Gonzalez said the number of people exercising right of return increased by approximately 150, adding that a policy change allowed students to bring roommates from outside their houses. Students involved in the room selection process, however, said the housing model still needs work, noting certain aspects of the model reduce a sense of community.
“The number of concerns from students were lower than last year, but there were still some,” Gonzalez said. “There will always be people who wished for a different outcome but overall people seemed happy.”
Gonzales added that Housing Dining and Residential Life staff tried to increase the number of house gatherings before students went to sign up for room selection, something he hopes to build upon for next year in order to better foster a sense of community among houses.
But junior Karthika Raja, a resident assistant in Crowell Quadrangle, said a majority of residents are not returning and will not be exercising their right of return.
“As an RA I’ve noticed that people involved in HDRL are trying very hard to make the independent house model work, and given time it hopefully will,” she said. “Right now, however, I’ve noticed that it is not as effective as it could be."
Raja added that the process of room selection always leaves some people with a bit of confusion. Most people get stuck on the technicalities of room assignment, which take away from the community of living in a house, she said.
In addition, she said that most people are unsure how to approach changes to the model. One change she suggested is allowing bigger blocks of friends to room together, an issue that has been the center of controversy.
“Especially in an independent house, the majority of residents are living in singles or with one small group of friends,” she said. “But a lot of people don’t have a sense of community with each other because they are rooming with people they were forced to live with.”
Becky Richards, a resident of the Kilgo Quadrangle and writer for Towerview Magazine, said the housing model is too limited with regards to separate houses within the dorms.
“The administration has this idea that students have an allegiance to their house,” she said. “Some do and others don’t, but it is more so that people have an allegiance to their dorm as a whole.”
Richards said she loved the sense of community in Kilgo this past year but experienced difficulty with her own room selection for next year. Despite her low lottery number, Richards was unable to attain a single and was then told she could not live with someone down the hall because she lived in another house.
After her disappointing experience, Richards was granted a room with the roommate she originally requested. She added, however, that the room selection process comes with a huge mound of miscommunication.
“Students are not aware of the policies,” she said. “No one ever fully explained it to me, and it is extremely frustrating because I think the housing model has a lot of issues that can be improved upon.”
Senior Victoria Scott, a resident assistant for Kilgo for the past two years, remains optimistic about the new housing model.
“It’s a work in progress,” she said. “I know people are quick to look at the way it isn’t working and its various faults, but it’s a new idea that will end up being very beneficial for independent students.”
People were generally happy with the way the selection process played out, Scott said. She added that the model’s biggest weakness is the chance of random roommate pairings and figuring out how to make that process work better.
“Sometimes there are issues with roommate pairings and people will end up without a roommate because there are none left," she said. “It is something they will have to work through.”