Bill seeks housing help for transfer students

Elaine Helm

Associated Student Government senators will vote tonight on a bill to give transfer students priority over current undergraduates on the on-campus housing waiting list.

The bill also would ask the university to reserve a block of housing within two years to alleviate the housing crunch for transfer students.

Transfer students must make their own living arrangements even though they know as little about off-campus housing as do freshmen, who are guaranteed dorm space, the bill’s authors said. Transfer students are admitted during the summer, after most on-campus housing placement is completed.

Steven Petric, one of the bill’s authors, transferred from Iowa State University in Fall Quarter 2001 and ended up living off campus with two female students after being told there were no dorm rooms for him.

“It’s not the ideal situation, but it works,” said Petric, a Weinberg sophomore. “I had just assumed that everything was going to be taken care of.”

The search for off-campus housing is overwhelming for many transfer students who are unfamiliar with Evanston, according to the bill’s authors.

But Residential Life Director Gregg Kindle said transfer students have the same resources available to them that any student looking for off-campus housing has, including a Web site with apartment listings and advice from Housing and Residential Life staff members.

Most of the approximately 100 transfer students this year had to live off campus, said Mark D’Arienzo, associate director of the Undergraduate Housing Office. But transfer students who still wanted to live on campus were accommodated as space became available.

“By the beginning of winter, any transfer student who had applied for on-campus housing in the fall and was still interested was accommodated,” D’Arienzo said.

During Winter Quarter, transfer students and students returning from study abroad and time away from campus were placed in the former Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity house. The building, which accommodates about 25 residents, had been cleaned and renovated for use as a temporary residence hall. D’Arienzo said the house’s future as a permanent dorm is unclear.

With the planned Fall Quarter opening of the Residential College of Science and Engineering at Benjamin W. Slivka Residence Hall, more students would be housed on campus than before. But Kindle said he cannot promise to fulfill all student requests for dorm housing.

“We may be at that point in a couple of years,” Kindle said. “But not this fall.”

If the Senate approves the bill, Kindle said NU could implement its recommendations, although he is not sure the bill would be fair to all students.

“Anything is possible,” he said. “It just means somebody else isn’t going to get housing.”

Off-campus Sen. Tameka Hawkins, who transferred from a school in California this fall, said she used the off-campus housing guide to find an apartment with another transfer student.

“I think the biggest concern of transfer students is that we’re not well adjusted to the community,” said Hawkins, a Weinberg sophomore.

Niteskool Productions Sen. Christine Sommers, who co-wrote the bill, said she wants to help transfer students integrate into the NU community.

“The administration has made community a priority,” said Sommers, a Weinberg sophomore. “But they’re not really holding up their end of the deal. I think (transfer students) should have the same priority as freshmen.”