Some students will struggle to find space in the strenuous strappings of SLU’s new plan

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Some students will struggle to find space in the strenuous strappings of SLU’s new plan

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Space.

For such a weightless, unburdened ether, humankind suffered unending conflict and waged bloody wars. The strenuous allocation of space is a problem that we face even now, here at Saint Louis University. The new plan released by The Department of Housing and Residence Life attempted to fix the problems of last year’s housing debacle. The new plan, sadly, will only bring on a fresh wave of quandaries and headaches. The following are two major problems that SLU will face in the coming years with this plan.

1. Timeline

The allotted time upperclassmen have for determining, post-lottery, whether or not they will be forced to live off campus for the following year places students in a severe bind for finding privately-leased apartments nearby. Apartments in The Coronado, The Lofts, The Drake, etc. historically have had waitlists that many SLU students end up signing up for– and this was before the new changes. Students submit their housing applications by Feb. 25; lottery results come out March 11.

Leasing nearby apartments via the usual process can sometime take several months, often starting with waitlists as early as the October beforehand. With March results, this is already too late for students who would need to find private apartments for the new academic year in August.

Furthermore, for those students brave enough to shoot for housing (once winning the lottery), there may not be housing suitable for their needs. With only 537 spots on campus and 288 beds in The Flats, not all upperclassmen will get an apartment-style residence – which brings us right back to our present predicament.

Even though upperclassmen will pick first, there will be many disgruntled students faced with finding an apartment at lightning speed after the April 8 housing results, should they be dissatisfied with their housing assignment. This is a unique problem with this timeline. “Winning the lottery” is not exactly winning. Herein lies a foreboding mess for both losers and winners.

The icing on the cake is this: students who gamble on the lottery and lose have to compete for apartments against SLU students – those who decided long before the February deadline to live off-campus –that start the hunting process for apartments early. This will happen in greater numbers, since all housing scholarships will be moved to tuition. Many students will find off-campus housing more appealing by default, lacking funds from the University.

Let’s also not forget that nearby apartments understand their own viability. With a $700 non-refundable deposit for simply the waitlist at The Coronado, you can bet that the financial difficulties of apartment living will hit students harder than ever as off-campus housing skyrockets in its value for desperate SLU students.

With our space crunch, we are simultaneously tightening the strings on our pockets and on our valuable time. The lesson? The early bird gets the worm – but Housing and Res Life hardly gives students a fighting chance for a roof above their heads. We need time. If an unfortunate few of us lose space on campus, then we absolutely deserve more space in our schedules, and we have a right to demand it.

2. Student Feedback

Housing and Res Life’s claim that they responded to student feedback with this new plan lacks legitimacy.

First, Student Government Association passed a resolution in the spring last year asking the administration to keep the Griesedieck Complex fully freshmen housing. With no response from the administration, the resolution was soundly ignored; sophomores (even those not in Learning Communities) live alongside freshmen in those residence halls. Even if the administration had sound reasons for making this decision, they did not acknowledge that the resolution reached their ears. With official feedback given, it was disregarded.

Second, the iPod touch surveys conducted during the housing appointments do not count as feedback. Simple satisfaction/dissatisfaction ratings given within minute-long time frames are no substitutes for well-reasoned and logical criticism from students who felt dissatisfied with the housing process. Feedback needs to highlight the specific tasks done well, the exact processes that caused problems, and the solutions that could resolve the problems. Google docs, surveys, e-mails – in a mass media world with these kind of resources, students did not hear even a rumor of efforts to reach out for proper feedback, which means that it didn’t happen for us.

They claimed that SGA and our Residence Hall Association gave student responses. But these organizations did not reach out to the general student body; we do not know what “feedback” was given in our named. A SLU version of Wikileaks in this situation would have been much appreciated. We do not know if what they said represented the opinion of the student body. It’s not enough, dismayingly, to count as “communication.”

Gaps between the administration and students on this crucial issue grow wider every day. Students need to feel heard. The immense success and student response on the Pius Library initiative prove that communication can be a real possibility: students will respond if given the chance. Should the administration continue to mute the student voice, this plague will never be cured and we will perpetually be fighting for recognition and voice.

Housing is a black mark on the track record for student-administrator communication. We need to speak to you and hear from you, and it cannot be through paltry and forgettable iPod-touch surveys. Thanks for asking us, SLU, before proceeding with this.

The conclusion? Housing and Res Life attempted to ameliorate last year’s housing pains, but they instead set up new problems and did not fix old ones. These will have resonating impacts for the surrounding private apartments. More importantly, the gulf of communication between students and administrators on such a basic need as shelter has widened. It further highlights a problematic attitude that our authorities have toward students – one of seeming apathy.

We urge you to prove us wrong on both of these counts. We do not want to constantly criticize. We urge you to take heed and prove that you are capable of handling the housing crisis with greater professionalism and intelligence.