When next year’s undergraduate housing assignments were released by Housing and Residence Life on March 1, many students were elated to find that they had been placed in Hollows Quad or their designated quad with their current roommates. However, not all were so lucky.
QuadEx, Duke’s new residential housing model, aims to “enhance and integrate the social, residential and intellectual lives of Duke undergraduates” by building a community link between East and West Campus. Residential quads seek to have their “own identity, traditions and social events.”
Under new QuadEx policies, rising juniors were only allowed to rank from 300 Swift, Hollows Quad and their QuadEx affiliated quad. They could not choose to live in another quad.
But some rising juniors who indicated a desire to live in their QuadEx-designated quad were instead placed in the apartments at 300 Swift, which they ranked lower.
Sophomore Alan Wang believes it’s “ironic” that Duke is “pushing for QuadEx” and for students to embrace the program while also barring them from living together in their designated quads.
“For our class, we just somehow became the guinea pigs for this entire system,” Wang said. “We're the ones getting the short end of the stick again, every single time.”
There are many variables impacting the quad to which students are assigned beyond simply their quad preference, according to Deb LoBiondo, dean of housing and residence life.
“We had another record-high number of rising seniors who want to live on campus this fall,” LoBiondo wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “Specifically, we received 789 applications from seniors, 700+ of them preferencing Hollows as their number one choice.”
Additionally, this year there are many rising juniors who wanted to remain in their quad rather than move into upper-class housing. LoBiondo attributes this to “the positive impact of living in their connected quad as a current sophomore.”
“These are all very positive outcomes of our first full year into QuadEx,” LoBiondo wrote.
Wang was one of these juniors. He preferenced Hollows Quad first, followed by Keohane Quad which is his QuadEx affiliated quad. Wang and his block assumed that because their quad connection is Keohane they would “always be guaranteed to get Keohane” regardless of where they ranked it when applying for housing.
Much to their surprise, when they opened the housing allocation they were assigned to 300 Swift.
LoBiondo wrote that Housing and Residence Life is unable to accommodate all juniors and seniors who want to remain in their current or connected quad while it prepares to transition rising sophomores to their connection.
Wang expressed frustration with his 300 Swift assignment because it is both more expensive and further away from campus.
A shared room in 300 Swift costs more than a standard double on West Campus. Similarly, a private room in 300 Swift costs about $2,500 more than a standard single on West Campus before financial aid.
“I wouldn't want to have to pay that premium, just to be inconvenienced by location and pay for this kitchen I'm just not going to use,” Wang said.
For students on need-based grant aid from the University, their financial aid “will increase to cover a more expensive room on campus,” according to the Karsh Office of Financial Aid. This means that out-of-pocket costs for a double or single, for example, are the same.
Other rising juniors, meanwhile, had the opposite problem: they preferred Swift but were instead placed in their designated quad.
Despite ranking her QuadEx connection last, sophomore Bess Pierre was once again assigned to live in Edens.
“I was interested in living [in Swift] because I'm not happy in Edens,” Pierre said.
Pierre described feeling forced into a situation she “didn’t necessarily want to be in” and recognized that others, like Wang, are frustrated because they are in the opposite scenario.
“I don't think it's the end of the world for me if I have to be in Edens another year, but it's definitely not ideal,” Pierre said.
According to LoBiondo, the housing assignments team can help students navigate the reassignment process, which begins June 1. Wang and Pierre both plan to apply for reassignment.
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Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Alison Korn is a Pratt junior and enterprise editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.