Controversy Ignites Sparks as Housing Policy Changes

Zack Rosen

Room selection is experiencing a huge change at the University of New Haven. In order to keep with UNH’s educational philosophy of students moving to a more independent living environment throughout their tenure at university, room selection will be reversed starting this coming year. Instead of the precedent of seniors picking first, followed by juniors, sophomores, and then freshmen, this year the current freshmen class will be picking first. The senior class, contrary to tradition, will be picking housing last.

Housing forums were established on Jan. 21 and Jan. 25 to give students an opportunity to speak directly with President Kaplan and many campus administrators. Many asked questions, some heated and some not, expressing their concern and understanding over the policy changes.

Since The Charger Bulletin broke the news about changes in the housing policies at the University of New Haven on Jan. 9, students – both those who will be affected and those who will not – have been raising, standing up. and expressing their opinions on the situation. From letters to the editor within this paper, to, to emailing and calling administration, and setting up a Facebook group, UNH students certainly know how to express their views. Housing forums were established on Jan. 21 and Jan. 25 to give students an opportunity to speak directly with President Kaplan and many campus administrators. Many asked questions, some heated and some not, expressing their concern and understanding over the policy changes.

President Kaplan spoke sincerely at the forum, stating that “this entire issue was not handled as I would have liked to have seen it happen.” He continued, saying that “there is, simply, no excuse for what happened as far as when you were informed. It was wrong, [and] I apologize for that. You should have been told earlier and, frankly, you should have been told in a much different way. And more importantly, and I know you feel this way very strongly, you should have been included on the conversation. […] All I can say is it was very unfortunate, and it was wrong, that you weren’t included in this process, […] and I apologize for that. It was a serious mistake, and we will make sure that that doesn’t happen again. We should have heard from you, we should have gotten your thoughts.”

The change to housing will be seen throughout campus as residences halls that held specific purposes over the last few years change to house different students. The majority of the freshmen dorms (Bixler, Botwinick, and Bethel) will continue to house freshmen as they make their first steps at the university. Soundview Hall, the newest residence hall on campus, will now house equal percentages of seniors, juniors and sophomores. Most on campus residence halls that normally house upperclassmen, including Winchester, Sheffield, and Dunham, will become priority housing for sophomores and juniors. Off campus residences, such as Regency and Savin Court, will be options for juniors and seniors as the spaces become available. With the size of the current freshmen class, a percentage of the senior student body will be able to still have university housing. However, an amount of seniors will have to find their own housing options. A negotiation with the Wintergreen Apartment complex in Westville, which leases apartments to UNH students at a reduced rate, was created for seniors that would be forced off campus. Although still in the planning stages, a 14-unit seniors-only condominium complex is being added to the housing market. President Kaplan spoke out about the 250 dollar room deposit fee, normally due in February, and remarked that the deposit would be refundable to any senior required to relocate off campus due to the change.

Other aspects of campus will change with the room selection changes expected for this spring. Centralized freshmen and sophomores will live in more structured, regulated housing. Juniors will live in mostly apartment based complexes that allow for slightly more freedom from underclassmen living. Seniors will get the feeling of living on their own, a mirror image of the life to come for them. Parking will also change on campus. While the shuttle system (to be overhauled before this implementation) will be the primary focus of travel for most students, seniors relocated to the Wintergreen complex will be given commuter stickers to park on campus. Changes across campus, meant to bring more focus and stability across campus, will become highly apparent as the semester draws to a close.

The changing of room selection did not come without careful consideration. Many different options were examined when deciding how to handle the influx of students, but the administration felt as if its philosophy towards nurturing underclassmen was the soundest road to follow. The new room selection process allows for incoming freshmen to be centrally localized on campus, a place necessary for a smooth transition from high-school to college life. The sophomore class, normally considered a “forgotten” class in terms of importance on campus, would be considered second to continue the nurturing process. But as students grow, the University of New Haven’s educational philosophy pushes to create more independent individuals, thus allowing for the movement of juniors and seniors.

There is still much to be discussed involving the changes at the University of New Haven, such as the requirements of number selection when an apartment is not all one class still has to be decided. But, overall, expect to see a significant difference on campus come fall.