April 14, 2023 | OPINION | By Karly Hamilton
Whenever someone asks me about housing at Colorado College while on a campus tour, I struggle with what to say. As of today, the three year residency requirement remains in place, but for how long? And more importantly, at what cost?
Rising sophomores and juniors went through the apartment selection process last week, and the results sparked a great deal of discussion. Apartment slots filled up before the first day of selection ended, and immediately there was dissatisfaction about the lack of apartment slots and who was able to select an apartment.
While I do not know all the details of housing selection, I do know this: there were approximately 400 apartment slots available for the 2023-2024 academic year and 650 rising juniors. Even if only juniors were allowed to select apartments, there is not enough space for all juniors to get an apartment. Add in the fact that rising sophomores were also eligible for on-campus apartments, and the options dwindle even faster.
I understand being disappointed with the results of housing selection – apartments are certainly nicer than dorms and afford students an increased level of independence and responsibility. But frankly, nobody deserves an apartment, regardless of how many credits they have completed on-campus, what their technical class standing is, or any other factor.
Colorado College requires students to live on campus for the first three years of their enrollment at the college. The Pathfinder section of the school’s website delves further into qualifications for living off campus, and the Housing and Residential Experience section provides clear details and links for both on and off campus housing options.
All the information we need to obtain housing for the upcoming academic year is easily accessible to us, as well as answers to common questions regarding topics such as study abroad programs, lottery numbers, and meal plans.
One of the most common complaints I have heard regarding apartment selection was that rising sophomores got apartments over rising juniors, but the housing website clearly states “Lottery numbers are determined by academic standing and class year.” Not getting the living space one wanted does not serve as a reason to pick apart housing selection or criticize the way spaces were distributed.
Housing selection is bound to be imperfect; the likelihood of everyone being content with the outcome is slim to none. What I struggle to understand is why people feel entitled to an apartment purely because they will be a junior during the upcoming year.
I understand not wanting to live in a first-year residence hall, but a recent email from housing stated that rising juniors should contact the housing office if they want to live in a Big Three hall – otherwise rising juniors will only be eligible for small houses during the last phase of housing selection. Thus, the fear of living in Mathias for a third year in a row is eliminated.
Students are paying for what they get. Housing rates change based on one’s accommodations, which means juniors are not paying more due to a higher class standing. Additionally, people have brought up concerns about the inequity of rising sophomores getting apartments over rising juniors. While, again, I can see how people are not thrilled about this, nobody in the current sophomore class was complaining last year when we got apartment slots over current juniors.
Why is it fair to expect housing to restart the process because not everyone got what they wanted this time around? I imagine people were frustrated with the outcome last year too, yet the selection process did not get reset then either.
In the real world, there is rarely a scenario where everyone wins. Even if the school could accommodate every student’s requests, they would not be doing students any favors. It is unrealistic to expect that everything will go exactly the way you want in life.
I understand being disappointed when things do not work out the way you hoped they would; it is not a good feeling. But it is important to remember why housing selection is imperfect, and a lot of it comes back to space. We just do not have enough housing on-campus for a three-year residence requirement to be comfortable and attainable long-term, and honestly, a lot of selection comes down to luck when lottery times are assigned.
Not everyone wins Mega-Millions, and not everyone can win housing selection either. Sometimes it comes down to luck of the draw, and, while not perfect, that is how life works. Should our three-year residency requirement be reevaluated? I think so; that would certainly afford students more flexibility when evaluating housing options. But the problem with housing selection is not that people are unhappy, it is that there is not enough space for our requirement to be enforced – and those are two very different things.