Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Students share housing concerns

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-085ad54f-0cee-e98c-bb7e-23fc7cf1100c">Every term, students who are off-campus must find housing for their return to Carleton. Many students say, however, that the process for finding a place to live is confusing and difficult.

As it stands now, off-campus students must either find a partially-filled room with a vacancy they can occupy or draw into an empty room with other off-campus students.

According to the Residential Life website, completely vacated rooms are “usually pretty limited” and are not made publicly available. However, partially-vacant rooms are made publicly available.

To facilitate the room-draw process, students can designate an on-campus proxy to coordinate with residents of a partially-filled room or to assist with the draw-in process for an empty room. Off-campus students are also asked to fill out a form indicating their room preferences.

Despite the process outlined on the ResLife website, students say that many parts of this process are murky and unclear.

“The process doesn’t seem straightforward to me,” said Pallav Kumar ’18, who is abroad in Ecuador. “Even for someone who’s worked [in ResLife], I feel like it shouldn’t be as confusing.”

“Figuring out housing it stressful enough as it is, but it’s even harder when you’re abroad because you’re so far away from everyone so you can’t just ask people when you run into them in Sayles or something,” said Martha Durrett ’18, who is abroad in Hungary. “After exchanging dozens of emails and hitting dead ends with every option I tried, I actually felt pretty helpless. I didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s not that I don’t have friends who I’d be happy to live with. I just got unlucky, and it was frustrating to know that I might end up getting placed by ResLife with a stranger despite all the effort I put into finding housing.”

Margot Radding ’18, who is abroad in India, said she was also mislead by the process.

“I think what was initially most frustrating was the fact that you were told you could organize housing with a proxy while abroad and figure out the logistics as you got closer to returning to Carleton, but that has proven to be untrue,” Radding said. “Pretty much every person with a vacant spot in his or her room has already chosen who they want to live with them. So for that reason, it was nearly impossible to just ‘figure it out’ while abroad.”

However, Andrea Robinson, Director of Residential Life, said the process is not designed to be confusing.

“It is not at all a desire to make the process a mystery,” Robinson said. “It’s that the process is complex, and for each student, it plays out a little bit differently depending on what their priorities are.

“The only way for us to have that type of individualized attention that we strive for is to do some of it through the office.”

Robinson said that the rooming process is explained partially on the ResLife website, but that there are too many individual scenarios to cover to provide a full explanation for each one. Instead, she encouraged students to come to ResLife with their questions.

“If students have questions, talk to us,” Robinson said.

One common issue students expressed was lack of information. According to many, it was frustrating not being able to know everyone that was abroad at the same time they were, making it hard to find potential roommates.

Hannah Gellman ’18, who is currently in Sri Lanka, said it would be better if housing selection for off-campus students worked like room draw.

Similarly, Paul Kirk-Davidoff ’18, who is abroad in Lebanon, said, “It’d be nice to have a list of students who are abroad, all the students who are coming back in the winter, along with just the vacancies.”

Robinson, however, said that some of these requests are not feasible. Because the number of completely vacant rooms is constantly changing, as students decide to leave campus for the winter or change their housing plans, ResLife would be unable to provide an accurate updated list of vacant rooms.

Furthermore, by looking at rooming on a case-by-case basis instead of a comprehensive lottery like room draw, Robinson said that ResLife is able to find housing for more students.

If a room frees up later in the process because a student does not want it or decides to leave campus for the term, ResLife can assign this room to a waiting student.

“If we just put everything out there, once you made your choice, you’d be done,” Robinson said, and students would not be able to have the flexibility provided in the current drawing process.

Robinson also said, however, that she is considering making available a list of students who are abroad, though there are some logistical problems. For instance, it would be difficult to update draw numbers because there are several factors that affect housing besides the number of off-campus students.

“The downside for us is that winter term housing is not based solely on students returning from OSC. It is certainly the largest group but it’s not the only group,” Robinson said. “One of our topics of conversation within the office right now is: ‘Is there a way that we can put this out so it’s right?’ If it can’t be right, then we can’t do it.”

Additionally, despite the large freshman class, Tanya Hartwig, Associate Director of ResLife, said there is not a shortage of rooms for winter term because over the summer, ResLife added capacity by converting lounges into rooms and doubles into triples.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *