Exile and apologies: College just doesn’t care about student accommodation

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THE FLIGHT FROM THE PRISONERS James Tissot, 1896-1902

Voices cry out in the wilderness – belonging to students with no place to live in the same college that exiled them for a year and a half. With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, many students were excited to return to campus for the fall term. However, with limited study abroad opportunities, limited D plans due to a remote school year, and general enthusiasm among students wanting to enjoy campus while they still can, the term may be most densely populated to date. Combine that with an extremely high return on students who have been offered a place in the Class of 2025 due to mismanagement by the Admissions Office, and you have a college very unprepared for the influx. It is therefore not surprising that the College announced in June that the demand for housing in the fall “has exceeded our capacity”.

Reversing the shortage on the pretext that this problem arose simply because of excessive demand, the College attempted to erase the larger problem that arose: that it had done nothing about an impending crisis in the supply of housing, which has been discussed but ignored for years until now. Let us not forget the hidden intention of the “Sophomore Summer” requirement designed to offload the demand for housing – a product of President Kemeny’s 1972 announcement to make the College a blended formation with no solution to increasing sub-housing. present in residence. History repeats itself often. Once again, the College is deploying excuses and workarounds to replace the material change.

2018’s flawed plans to develop an undergraduate housing complex have failed; construction never even started and bids to the City were never made. With a seemingly perfect opportunity to deal with the shortage during the pandemic, the College has tweaked its thumbs, instead focusing funds on a graduate housing complex and university buildings. First, these developments are not mutually exclusive with the construction and renovation of undergraduate student residences. The Onion, Choates, tennis courts, and other underutilized spaces all offer potential locations for new dorms. Second, given its deployment of millions of dollars in various construction projects, it appears to be a priority issue and not a budget constraint. New plans are underway to develop an undergraduate residency by fall 2023, accompanied by a board decision to allocate $ 1.65 million and a portion of the Renewal Fund. infrastructure to ‘renovated campus housing’, but there are no guarantees in place. Students are fed up with broken promises that push legitimate concerns into the distant future.

The shortage of housing for undergraduates places a heavy burden on students. Many struggled to find off-campus accommodation in the Haute Vallée. With house prices at an all time high, the rent will surely be devastating for students who relied on the subsidized housing and utilities provided by the College. With strict city residency requirements, availability is limited in Hanover, posing further problems for students who don’t have a car or who live too far from New Hampshire to be able to travel. bring one. If students cannot find off-campus accommodation, they simply cannot attend classes, which alters their Plan D for reasons beyond their control. This presents a significant problem for students in the 2023 class, most of whom only have one available out of session reserved for their junior summer, while many undertake an internship that potentially defines their career path. This catch-22 situation, in which students can neither attend the fall term due to accommodation constraints nor give up taking the summer term 2022 due to professional obligations, has not yet been addressed. by the College. The Class of 2022 faces a tough spot in that they have to attend their senior fall, winter, and spring terms. It is also important not to forget about mental health, especially after a year of confinement, quarantine and isolation from friends and the community. Some students have not been on campus for a year and a half; others are transfers that have no knowledge of campus life. This general feeling of isolation will only be perpetuated by exile from the fall housing.

Fulfilling the role of the bloated college bureaucracy should be, Student Assembly published an open letter on fall housing to offer solutions that simply avoid exiling students from their community. They came up with two very feasible options: temporarily transforming local hotels, including the Hanover Inn, into undergraduate housing, and providing housing allowances to ease the financial burden of off-campus living if the first option is limited. These solutions would give the College enough time to build new housing while accommodating current students. Unsurprisingly, the letter fell on deaf ears. Instead, the college chose to implement a fall housing “lottery” system in which students can waive their right to housing for a chance of $ 5,000 in compensation. This plan creates problematic incentives in that, realistically, the college is waving a carrot in front of low-income students who may feel pressured into accepting the lottery at the expense of their own position on campus; it does not appear that the lottery offers much incentive to high income students who do not need to sacrifice their well-being for material needs. As if the students were the passengers of an overbooked flight, the College’s solution was to burn money to facilitate exile. The College has also worked to convert the common spaces and basements of the residences and increase the occupancy rate of already crowded rooms – as if the Choates were not an obscene daily reminder of attempts to remedy to the shortage of supply through poor quality construction projects.

At the end of July, 93 undergraduates remained on the waiting list for fall housing. Presumably, a majority of them will not be able to access it, especially with only one month before the fall session. How long will disillusioned students put up with broken promises and empty excuses from college? It’s hard to say, but this question starts from the top, whose priorities never seem to align with the interests of its main constituents, the students. When current undergraduates think about their time in college decades from now, half of their undergraduate experience won’t even be To Middle School. President Hanlon and the board don’t seem to care


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