April 3 to April 6 was a time of stress, as students of all years, especially from the Class of 2026, were left dissatisfied with the room assignments they received. When trying to register for housing for Fall 2023, students ended up either not getting the room that they preferred, having to break up their group in order to get a room, or not getting a room at all.
In response, the Residential Education team reached out to the students requesting them not to send any emails asking for re-assignments. The students were not informed of updates to their housing status until April 13, a week after the last room selection date, when ResEd sent an email titled “Undergraduate Housing Update.” The email details ResEd’s plan to deal with the situation, including making A3/A4 rooms available and having more singles and non-visitation assignments after the student leadership roles of RA and First Year Weyak leader are announced.
Annoying, frustrating, disappointing, weird, stressful, scary, and “kinda a bummer,” are just some of the words first years used to describe this housing process and its outcome.
“A day before [my time slot], I checked the suites that were left, but there weren't many and I was like hmm… how [is] everybody going to fit in those spaces? And then we later realised that there are no rooms, indeed,” shared Sudiksha Kalepu from the Class of 2026. Kalepu has not received a room despite the four-day long assignment process.
“I kind of want to blame [Residential Education],” responded Hoang Phuc Nguyen from the Class of 2026, when asked what they think led to the housing situation.
During the housing process, issues with the website caused discontent — some students were automatically removed from their groups while others refreshed the website to find no rooms at all.
Dea Likaj, from the Class of 2026, shared how she would have liked the website to be designed such that it wouldn’t crash while students were trying to secure rooms for themselves, already stressed out.
“[ResEd not being able to manage the website] is bizarre though…because they’re the admins, they’re supposed to have total control,” Phuc added.
Frustrated at having to settle for a room he didn’t want, Phuc further shared: “I sent them an email literally immediately when I heard the news… -they responded to me in the morning. You know what they said? They said “Oh that sucks, do Bed4Bed.”
For most, the problem was not even a late time slot, as they claimed that single suites especially ran out within the first hour of room selection, and even the double suites were filled with only one person blocking groups of four from occupying the room.
“It was hectic,” said Dea. She reflected on how she was at least thankful to have grouped with an upperclassman, as was the common strategy for those that managed to secure a room.
While some cannot secure the room they wanted, for many, there were no rooms to choose from at all.
Many of these students believe that since they got the short end of the stick in the first place, they should get priority in ResEd’s new and improved “Undergraduate Housing Update,” the details of which were shared in a recent email. Whether these first year students should get priority in A3/A4 assignments over senior students that have waited much longer for a single is a point of contention. Because, as Dea rightly admits, “I don't think it's just like for first years, that [there] was like, a level of dissatisfaction.”
“I don’t know what ResEd was thinking, opening such little buildings,” shared Kalepu. Her words reflected a wish to have more spaces to be opened to first years right from the beginning, instead of compensatory measures being implemented now.
“I think they should have made spaces available beforehand, instead of doing it later now,” shared Jahan Farjana from the Class of 2026, echoing the same sentiment.
“RALI was ages ago. And we brought it up to them [then]… And they were just like — “oops, kind of sucks,’” Dana Mashal from the Class of 2026, recalled. Referring to the Resident Assistant Leadership Institute, Mashal also reflected on the logistical mismanagement on the ResEd’s side.
Such disillusionment with the ResEd’s management may stem from the fact that the only communication first years received, before ResEd’s recent housing updates email, was “DON’T PANIC!!!” — fully capitalized, bolded, and highlighted.
“I don’t think they care,” shared Phuc. He further stated that ResEd’s approach to the crisis was really passive and disorganized. In his opinion, ideal communication would have been faster.
In addition, first year students expressed that they would have preferred if they had been warned about the shortage of rooms from the beginning, and been made aware that A3/A4 rooms are available as a backup plan, in order to avoid the anxiety and distress caused over not knowing what their room assignment would be for the coming year.
In the words of yet another frustrated first year, Mehraneh Saffari, “we weren’t expecting our first preference [of rooms] but we also weren’t expecting to become homeless.”
In response to the situation, first year students suggested strategies that would have helped them manage their anxiety and frustration and streamlined the process: surveying residents and giving priority to non-commuters. Most importantly, a strategy named by each and every first year interviewed was that they could have waited till the Resident Assistant and Weyak leader announcements came out before opening housing. “The whole concept of everyone having to get a room and then later on finding out, “oh…you’ve become an RA,” and then your roommate having to room with someone random like that, that's really messed up I feel,” shared Aalia Imran, Class of 2026.
At the same time, many acknowledge the logistical burden that ResEd’s must be facing considering the high number of super senior students and first year students this year, especially with first year students pairing with upperclass students, further complicating the assignment of rooms. The general understanding amongst first year students is that it is impossible for all students to get the assignments they preferred. Even those dissatisfied with the current outcome are not entirely sure which alternative plan of action would have been perfect.
“I guess they’re trying their best,” shared Saffari. She further admitted that the main problem lies simply in the campus being at full capacity.
Regarding ResEd’s recent email pacifying the student community and promising to open A3/A4, as well as more singles and non-visitation rooms, many are happy with the transparency of options and responsiveness.
“It was nice to hear from them,” admitted Zebo. Dea echoed, “It [felt] so sad to have so many people not knowing what's going to happen to them”.
Some first years also agreed that while ResEd’s response was not optimal, it is the best that can be done now. They are hopeful that ResEd has taken into consideration their dissatisfaction. Many of these hopes are attached to the Bed4Bed program. Aneeka Paul from the Class of 2026 further elaborated: “I also appreciate that they said they're opening bed for bed before the semester starts, because usually, I think it's like two weeks after the semester starts.”
The proposal for added A3/A4 and non-visitation assignments, however, received a mixed response. Many expressed that the renewed possibility of getting singles, even if first years won’t be prioritized, is a hopeful prospect. Students expressed wanting more details about how this extended housing assignment would work, especially details about the time slots and grouping.
Most notably, being separated from their friends — whether because they had to split their groups, or will be housed in A3/A4 where non-residents are not permitted to visit — is a problem all of the interviewed first years raised as the main worry they have now.
“Because I think most of us are still not sure where we're going to live or the room that we will get, how we're going to adapt with them. Because there's a matter of living for a whole year with a stranger, basically, we have the choice of choosing our roommates and stuff, but I don't think that after this whole housing problem happened, we're going to… still [be] able to choose our roommates as we wanted,” Farjana elaborated.
With the new changes, many first years expressed a general desire to be able to room with their desired roommates during their second year, as many of them had originally planned. They hoped that further communication from ResEd includes details on whether their roommate groups will remain the same, whether students would have to change their visitation/non-visitation preference, and if non-residents would be allowed into A3/A4 buildings if such a large number of students are housed there, a question that has been raised in previous semesters as well.
The Gazelle reached out to the Residential Operations team for a statement and did not receive a response yet.
Tiesta Dangwal is Deputy Features Editor. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org