Housing change not easy for dissatisfied students

Pam Carmasine

As all Northwestern students know, moving out of University housing is more involved than taping up a few boxes. And this year, a smaller percentage of available spaces in University housing means there is less wiggle-room.

With 1 to 2 percent of available housing spaces empty, NU’s ability to accommodate students unless there are mutual requests for a transfer is compromised, said Mark D’Arienzo, the office’s associate director for University Housing administration.

If a student decides to transfer from University Housing, anything short of medical, marital and military reasons will make a change more difficult, D’Arienzo said.

“The perception that, ‘I’m paying a great deal of money, I should be able to get what I want,’ is a question we address almost every day, ” he said.

Academic factors ranging from probation to internships are also considered, but students are responsible for the housing contract they signed over the summer, D’Arienzo said. The contract binds the student to their housing for the full year.

“If you move off campus just because you want to, we will continue to bill you,” he said.Weinberg sophomore Maddy Hinkamp said she did not think University Housing was helpful when she tried to move into her sorority house this year.

“(My sorority) said it should be OK,” she said. “But housing said I needed a better reason.”

University Housing requires students who wish to get out of their contract to find an off-campus replacement willing to sign one. D’Arienzo said students wishing to switch places on campus must mutually agree to move. When Hinkamp could not find someone to replace her in Bobb Hall, she could not get out of her housing contract.

“I had no idea and just gave up,” she said.

But Weinberg sophomore Sasijaree Rianterawongs was eventually released from her contract this winter. Rianterawongs, who lived in South Mid-Quads this fall, tried to get out of her contract to live in her sorority house. Because sorority housing is not technically on-campus, the process required persistence, she said.

“I signed up for the waiting list and sent housing an e-mail,” Rianterawongs said. “They told me I have to find a new transfer student or person coming home from abroad to switch housing with me.”

Rianterawongs moved to Kappa Delta on Sunday due to a need to allocate space for incoming transfer students.

D’Arienzo said transfer students are guaranteed a bed, but University Housing does not specify where.

When Molly Kriva, a transfer student from Lawrence University, arrived at NU this fall, she was placed in the basement of Bobb with about 20 other students.

“It’s really inappropriate to put a bunch of transfer students in a basement,” the Weinberg junior said. “I got sick of it after a while with its dark wood paneling, perpetually 70s decor and bugs.”

After two months, a room vacancy allowed Kriva to move into Jones Residential College.

At the end of the day, maintaining strict housing contracts is necessary, D’Arienzo said.

“The University, in addition to being an institution of a higher learning, is a business,” D’Arienzo said. “Otherwise it could not continue to exist.”[email protected]