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Burig outlines minor changes to housing policy

Administrators hope to remedy last year's snafus in the housing policy - which relegated some juniors to Edens Quadrangle as sophomores basked in their singles on Main West- with some minor but significant changes.

Assistant Dean of Residence Life Bill Burig spoke to Campus Council last week to present the 2003-2004 housing proposal, which gives seniors who have not lived on West the highest housing priority. Although the new plan keeps much of the old intact - including rooms on West for all rising sophomores and the same links between freshman dormitories and West Campus quads - singles will not be reserved for sophomores, and students will receive a higher housing number if they request to return to the same quad.

Burig said he wanted to make housing assignments less painful for students by increasing their chances of living in the same place. "We want very much for students to land someplace and be able to stay there and not have to worry about having every year to pick up and potentially move somewhere else," he said.

It is now up to Campus Council to approve the changes and cement them into policy.

"Campus Council will respond to those changes and come up with a list of strategic long-term initiatives," said senior Andrew Nurkin, president of Campus Council.

Burig said he consulted Campus Council and Duke Student Government earlier to hear their input on the housing system, particularly the issue of seniority.

The success or failure of linked housing is yet to be determined, as administrators said they are giving the new system one more year to prove itself.

"We don't feel that a one-year process is enough to really make a good assessment in terms of whether or not linked housing is something that should stay or go," Burig said. "We don't feel like we've properly given it enough time to say if it's successful or not successful."

Director of Residence Life and Student Housing Eddie Hull, who was hired earlier this year, said he will investigate the housing process without settling for the current procedure if problems arise.

Additionally, the new housing plan will force students to live on campus for three consecutive years. In the past, many students successfully petitioned to move off campus when returning to the University after studying abroad. Instead, starting with the Class of 2005, all students will need to live on campus for three consecutive years to fill vacant beds and to maintain community cohesion.

Even though Burig admitted that housing assignments might potentially become unavailable to rising seniors to allow rising juniors and sophomores to fulfill the requirement, he said he will remain firm about implementing the policy.

The Class of 2005 "is the very first class that has ever been on West Campus as an entire class," Burig said. "So we're not going to be flexible."

Last year's housing policy caused an uproar among many upperclassmen who did not get singles on West while sophomores did. Burig ascribed that outcome to the decision to separate room picks by the size of the room.

"It was the order in which things were selected that caused the problem. Singles were picked first, then triple rooms, then double rooms," Burig said. "So this year... everything is on the table. It's in a straight number lottery order, and lottery is obviously by seniority."

The announcement of next year's system was generally well received among the student body, especially when they heard that seniors are gaining housing priority over other students.

"It's really good that they are allowing for the fact that a lot of juniors have never gotten the opportunity to live on Main West," junior Rebecca Kristol said.

Amelia Hairston-Porter, a sophomore who received a single during housing picks last year, said she thought upperclassmen deserve the singles on West.

"I think the policy is fair now. I know if I were an upperclassman, I wouldn't have been too happy about the policy," Hairston-Porter said. "I figured I would try for [a single] and see if one was available. It was just kind of a gamble."

Jenni Hainsfurther contributed to this story.

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