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Students abroad in housing limbo

About 60 juniors currently studying abroad do not yet have housing assignments for the Spring.

Housing, Dining and Residence Life is having trouble accommodating roommate and other housing requests for students returning to live on campus this Spring. This has left 59 students without assignments as of Monday morning, said MJ Williams, director of finance and administration for HDRL. This delay is unexpected given the Spring 2012 opening of Keohane Quadrangle 4E that will add 150 beds to West Campus.

The students who did not receive housing assignments right away will have to wait as the office continues to process information from students leaving for the Spring, whether to graduate early or move off campus, said Linda Moiseenko, manager for Duke community housing.

“There is a lot of change that occurs with students leaving and returning to campus between semesters-- our office tries to make assignments with the best outcome possible,” Moiseenko wrote in an email Monday. “This year we need more time to make that happen.

Junior Christopher Whittaker, currently studying abroad in Madrid, said he had hoped to live with two fraternity brothers who are also returning from abroad. There were no available triples on campus, so the two fraternity brothers will be living in K4, but Whittaker remains without housing.

“It’s just one of those situations where housing works out for nine out of 10 people, and the other one ends up in housing purgatory,” Whittaker wrote in an email Saturday.

HDRL emailed on-campus housing assignments to students Nov. 22—earlier than last year, when students were notified in December, Moiseenko said. HDRL did this in order to better align with billing students for the Spring.

Serving every student who requests on-campus housing in the Spring has historically been challenging for students and for HDRL, Moiseenko added.

Students who apply for on-campus housing are randomly assigned numbers that HDRL processes in order, based on availability and preference. Students returning to campus for the Spring—including study abroad students and those returning from a leave of absence or withdrawal—applied for on-campus housing by Oct. 31. HDRL did not provide the total number of students who requested on-campus housing for the Spring.

Many students, such as junior Taylor Jones, said they hoped for a spot on West Campus even though they were unsure of what to expect.

“We know of so many people that applied to live off campus and weren’t let off, so we naturally assumed that on-campus housing had to be abundant,” wrote Jones, who is also studying abroad in Madrid, in an email Sunday. “We had no idea that not receiving a housing assignment was even an option. Since we’re all scattered all over the world right now, it’s been hard to figure out what’s going on at Duke, and we haven’t really gotten many answers yet which has been pretty frustrating.”

Junior Brandon Locke said he believes that HDRL likely did not have many doubles on campus for juniors coming back from abroad. Locke and several of his friends received an email explaining that there were no more empty rooms for roommate pairs, so he will most likely live with someone that he does not know.

Locke, who is a member of Wayne Manor, said many of the juniors in the selective living group also went abroad.

“A lot of my friends in [Wayne] already have their assignments, so it would have been much nicer to have been one of those lucky few so that I would not have had to think about this,” Locke said. “But, it’s just for one semester…. Obviously, I wish [HDRL] had gotten the information on who would be leaving or staying [sooner], so we all could have gotten our housing assignments at the same time. Now, people are left dangling.”

Some other students, though not waiting for an assignment, instead had their preferred living arrangement split. Junior Andrei Santalo, who is studying abroad in Barcelona, said he was told by HDRL last Spring that attaining a 3-bedroom, gender-neutral apartment with his three other roommates on Central Campus after returning from abroad would not be a problem.

Santalo said, however, that he was notified a few weeks ago that 3-bedroom apartments were no longer available.

“They put me and [my other roommate] together on Oregon and [the other two roommates in another Oregon apartment,” he said. “Now we’re in the same building on opposite sides, which ended up not being a terrible situation.”

Santalo is still exercising the gender-neutral option, though he noted his frustrations with the system.


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