Cooper: An earlier housing deadline creates problems

Danny Cooper, Columnist

For many Northwestern students, the beginning of Winter Quarter is a signal to start thinking about housing for the following school year. It also marks the exciting and stressful recruitment period for fraternities and sororities. Clearly, the two are inherently linked. The ability to live in a Greek house can be one of the major reasons someone decides to join a Greek organization in the first place. However, provided one is able to get into an organization, figuring out whether they should live in the house or not is another story.

There are numerous factors that can complicate the decision: live-in requirements, financial concerns, the number of spots available for new members. But perhaps the most important is the question of whether someone actually wants to live in their fraternity or sorority house. For first-year students just getting to know their pledge classes, this question might not be answered for several weeks. However, due to a new policy change, students will have to make that decision fairly soon.

This year, students will only have until Feb. 26 to reserve a spot in on-campus housing for the upcoming academic year. In previous years, the recontracting period lasted from early March to late April.

“The changes are meant to streamline the process,” Jack Heider, Residence Hall Association president, said in an interview with the Daily last week.

Though the process will most likely be shorter and will certainly end earlier, pushing up the deadline for this decision is only going to create more stress.

There can be a major difference between the price of living on campus and the price of living in a Greek house. According to a document distributed by the Panhellenic Association during recruitment, prices for room and board range from under $3,000 a quarter to $5,000 a quarter. For comparison, the rate for just a room (not including board) in Foster-Walker Complex is around $3,400 a quarter.

One’s housing decision can wind up saving them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. That’s why it is so important that people receive their financial information with enough time to make a well thought out decision. Moving the deadline up impedes that process.

In addition, housing decisions will now have to be made before people become full members of their new organizations. Initiation for most organizations usually takes place during the later weeks of Winter Quarter, potentially after the deadline. This could create several problems.

Someone might neglect to sign up for on-campus housing under the belief they will live in a sorority or fraternity house and then decide to drop out of the process, leaving them with few options for the following year. This also might keep someone from dropping out of a Greek organization in which they don’t feel fully comfortable, because it might be their only choice for a living arrangement.

This move also precludes anyone who rushes in the spring from living in their Greek houses the following year. There aren’t too many people who rush in the spring, but pushing the deadline up to late February seems to be guaranteeing that it won’t be an option.

It seems wrong to add more stress to what is already a difficult process, yet by moving the deadline up an entire month, Residential Services has done just that. Pushing the deadline back several weeks to the end of Winter Quarter could make these decisions easier on students.

Danny Cooper is a Medill freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.