New on-campus housing system draws complaints


Daily file photo by Alissa Zhu

This year, Northwestern Residential Life will assign randomized priority numbers for on-campus housing, instead of basing them on seniority like in years past. Housing applications are due Monday.

Olivia Exstrum, Reporter

In an effort to encourage Northwestern students to live on campus for longer periods of time, Residential Services eliminated the granting of selection priority to upperclassmen for the 2014-15 academic year.

According to an email sent by Residential Services before Spring Break, there will now only be two priority categories for returning students, one for students who currently live in University housing and a second for students living off campus or in Greek housing. The students in the first group will receive first priority, but the given numbers will be randomized, to give all students the chance to receive a more desirable number.

“It is now possible for a sophomore to have a more desirable priority number than a senior,” said Mark D’Arienzo, Senior Associate Director of University Housing Administration.

In the past, students had the option to apply for a priority number without a binding agreement to live in University housing. Under the new system, students are required to commit to living on-campus before receiving a number. The 2014-15 year will be the first time this policy is implemented campus-wide. However, the change was first executed when the class of 2017 applied for housing last summer.

D’Arienzo said there are a variety of reasons for the changes. He said Residential Services has been looking at altering the system for a number of years, noting data that demonstrated the old priority system was pushing students off campus at an earlier point in their college careers.

“For example, rising sophomores who believed they could not obtain desirable housing were living off campus,” he said. “We wanted students who currently live in University housing to stay on campus in a room that would be desirable.”

However, some NU students believe the new system does not give upperclassmen the benefit they deserve. Bienen junior Morgan Markel, who currently lives in University housing and is planning to next year, said hearing about the new system was “upsetting to hear.”

“I think it’s quite unfair to upperclassmen who have lived in University housing for multiple years,” Markel said. “I think the people who put more into the system should get more out of it, and I think this goes against that principle.”

Markel added that her main reason for continuing to live in University housing was the convenience of being on campus.

Similarly, Weinberg sophomore Domonic Burke, said he believes the new policy is problematic for a variety of reasons. He said the new rules were announced so late in the year that it is now virtually impossible for students to find off-campus housing as an alternative.

“It just continues the disregard that the administration has for students,” Burke said. “It’s as if they don’t see students as students and simply as another check.”

D’Arienzo said Residential Services anticipates they will receive questions and concerns about the new process, which occurs every year. He said none of the concerns brought forth were out of the ordinary or unusual. However, he also said he has been approached by several rising seniors who were worried about receiving desirable housing due to the change. D’Arienzo said until students have their priority numbers, there is little his department can do to remedy concerns.

“I’ve overseen the assignment process in some way or the other for the past 14 years, so I’ve seen a number of different incarnations of the priority process,” he said. “Every year works, and every year works well.”

The housing contract will close Monday. Students will be able to view their priority numbers beginning the week of April 14.

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