Springing New Housing Policies on Students

The Charger Bulletin

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I still remember walking through the University of New Haven’s campus as an incoming freshman, nervous and excited to attend. My tour guide was explaining all the great things UNH was doing and why it was the best school for me to attend. One of these things really stuck out to me: My guide said that UNH would have a place for me to live on campus for all four years I attended. He seemed to really emphasize on that point. Most schools don’t offer that to their students, after all. As you can imagine, this was a large factor when I was choosing which school I would attend.
Fast-forward a couple years and here I am with a letter in my hand telling me that I’m not guaranteed housing for next year. What happened? Why am I being told this in the spring semester of my junior year after 2 years of hard work and an investment of over $75,000?

I suppose I should have seen this coming. Watching the class of 2012 move into UNH in record-breaking numbers was quite interesting. I went into my old suite in Bethel Hall that year to see what it was like. They had tripled the rooms, squeezing eighteen people into a suite with two toilets and two showers. I thought that the administration had learned its lesson. I was wrong. The following freshman class was even bigger.

Soundview Hall was opened though, and it created more room for students on campus. I was so jealous of the seniors that got to live in Soundview. All through my sophomore year, I had been awakened early in the morning by the sound of construction. My tuition was increased to help pay for a new residence hall that would be the best one on campus. I watched Soundview be built from the ground up. When room selection came around that year, my lottery number wasn’t good enough to get me a room in Soundview. I took solace in the fact that when I was a senior, that building was mine. Imagine my shock when I found out that I would have a huge chance of not being allowed to move into the very building that I helped pay for. As if that wasn’t enough, it gets worse. Not only will I not get to live in Soundview, I won’t even get to live ON CAMPUS.

It appears UNH has done it again. In an effort to expand rapidly, they have accepted too many students and can’t fit them all on campus. Today, I spent a lot of time discussing this situation with fellow seniors and UNH staff. The only thing I keep hearing from the UNH administration is that they need to guarantee housing for freshman because they don’t know the campus and they aren’t as mature as we are. Admittedly, that is a fair point. What doesn’t make sense is that they are guaranteeing housing for the current freshman class for their sophomore year. I have a lot of friends who lived off campus their sophomore year and they did just fine. Having seniors choose housing directly after incoming freshmen would seem a more reasonable policy to me. Perhaps the reason they are picking on seniors is that they know they have us backed into a corner. If the current freshman class found out that they would not be guaranteed housing for their sophomore year, many of them would probably transfer to a different school. As seniors, we have invested too much time and money into UNH to make that a feasible option. The administration knows this, and they are using it against us.

I have noticed a trend among the responses I have gotten from the UNH administration. They keep telling me that I’m mature and I can go out and find a place to live. They keep making it seem like this situation is my fault. I guess they neglected to remember that they caused this problem by accepting more students than they can fit on campus. It’s great that UNH wants to expand, but it needs to be done in a manner that makes sense. Putting up a new residence hall and adding onto the dining hall to accommodate more students does not make sense when you have to accept EVEN MORE students to cover the cost. The solution to crowding on campus (Soundview Hall) lasted only one year before the problem resurfaced. How long will it be before the dining hall needs to be renovated yet again to accommodate the even larger influx of students we now have? On top of that, UNH is constructing the Henry Lee Institute. Apart from destroying and digging up the most aesthetically pleasing part of campus, this now adds an even bigger financial strain on the university. I wonder how they plan on covering that cost. If I were a betting man, I’d certainly bet that the freshman class coming in after the next one will be the largest ever.

In the interest of keeping this shorter than a novel, I won’t go over all of the logistical issues that the university will face by moving the majority of the senior class off campus. (Anyone who has ever had to take a shuttle to campus knows what I’m talking about.) Frankly, I feel like UNH has turned its back on me. This university has quickly turned into the very thing that it set out to compete against. It has transformed into a school that doesn’t care about the students attending it. It has become impersonal. I came to UNH to get an education in a small classroom and felt good knowing that my school actually cared about my experience here. A good example of this is that we all got letters making sure we didn’t forget to fork over $250 for the room selection fee a week BEFORE they sent out the letters telling us that we wouldn’t be guaranteed housing. In the words of a member of the UNH administration, “You have the entire semester to figure this out. It is not “no warning” … Could it have gone out earlier? Possibly.” Why do I have to figure this out? Why do I have to even bother writing this letter? I have paid a great deal of money for what was promised to me. I should not have to figure out housing if I have been a residential student for the past 2 years. This is not my responsibility.

It belongs to the college. They have failed to not only meet their responsibility, but have not upheld their promise they made to me when they accepted my money.

I would like to close by making the point that while the prospect getting last pick for room selection as a senior is wrong and unjust, it’s not even what angers me the most. What really gets me and many other seniors angry is the way this whole situation was handled. We were told as freshmen that we would get to live on campus and get first pick as seniors. We were lied to. There’s no way around that. To all of the UNH administration reading this, I hope you realize that YOU created this problem by accepting too many students. YOU need to find a solution to it.

As a caveat, I’d like to add that forcing seniors off campus is NOT a reasonable solution. To all the seniors reading this wondering what is going to happen to them next year, we need to stand together and fight this injustice. What UNH is doing to us is not fair and immoral. Let’s stand together and let our voices be heard. We can’t stop until this problem is resolved.

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Springing New Housing Policies on Students