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Living WEL or Better

Students who spend a semester studying abroad on the beaches of Australia and alongside the Seine in Paris have nothing to complain about, right? Ask them in years past, and they might have given you an earful about the travails of returning to on-campus housing.

Previously, students returning from abroad faced possible placement in Edens Quadrangle or Trent Drive Hall, each relatively far from the center of West Campus. With the West-Edens Link's opening this year, this spring is the first semester most abroad students have a greater possibility of avoiding placement in Edens or Trent, and some say they have little to complain about.

"By and large, students came back to more preferred locations this year," said Bill Burig, assistant dean of residence life. "But not everyone got exactly what they wanted."

Burig stressed that while the WEL did provide more attractive options for students returning this year than in years past, it did not, by any means, amend all students' situations and the assignment process did not differ from years past.

"It provided one more attractive option for students, it added one more preference, and that expands the number of people that received their preference," he explained.

Abroad students received letters last fall asking them to rank their top quad choices along with whether or not they had a specific roommate request. Burig said his first priority was to keep roommate pairs together.

"All of the students that wanted to be together as roommates were put together," Burig said.

Such was the case with Andrew Perlstein and Eric Klinek, juniors returning from Madrid, Spain who asked for space on Main West Campus, the WEL, Edens and Central Campus, in that order. Originally, the housing office placed them on Central Campus in order to keep them together, but later reassigned them to the WEL.

Despite not receiving his first choice, Perlstein is content with the new dorm. "Everything functions very well, as it should considering it's brand new. And having the diner and the coffee shop has been very good," Perlstein said. "Being so conveniently located has really been a plus too. In retrospect, I think if we had known how nice it would be here, it would have been likely we would have preffed living here."

Junior Laura Howard, who was studying in Sydney, Australia, last fall, explained that even with the choice to live in the WEL, she ranked any room on Main West Campus - a single, double or triple - above those in the WEL.

"I got a letter while I was abroad that said this was one of the best years for a student to study abroad and choose to have on-campus housing when they return," said Howard, who was ultimately placed in the WEL.

Howard explained that if she had the chance to rank her choices another time, she would have still preferred Main West, but is happier to be in the WEL than in Edens. "I met with Bill Burig when I got back, and he said everyone's top 10 choices are rooms on Main West and they can't accommodate everyone," she said. "At first I was very upset, but I think the WEL is a lot better than Edens."

Burig said that while they do not keep numbers on where students were placed this year in comparison to past years, he did think that housing reassignment requests "have been on par with other years."

Burig said that no student returning from abroad was placed in Trent, despite requests by some students to live there. "We only opened Trent for students who participated in last spring's process," he said, explaining that they had ample space for students outside Trent.

But Burig added that it is not clear whether this "ample space" was a result of the WEL or due to the volume of vacancies across campus.

While the WEL has not revolutionized the on-campus housing process for students returning from abroad, on the whole students agreed that it has helped eliminate some fears of returning to less-desired housing on campus.

"When I was applying for study abroad, I wasn't concerned with where I would live [when I returned to campus]," Klinek said. "But I think that with the WEL, if students think they have a decent shot at good housing, it's a plus."

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