April 14, 2023 | NEWS | By Leigh Walden
Some Colorado College students are facing a new series of housing struggles as apartment housing becomes finalized and the final stages of finding places to stay next year loom closer. Across campus, there are some students who believe that the means to decide who receives what housing on campus are deeply flawed.
Early this year, the housing office announced they were shifting to a new software to assist in the housing selection process. This software, called StarRez, is used on numerous campuses across the United States. The switch to this software is partially in response to housing frustrations from last year where students reacted to a lack of on campus housing outside of the primarily first-year “Big-Three” dorms: Mathias Hall, South Hall, and Loomis Hall.
This year, as StarRez and a strained on-campus housing market are put to the test, some students across classes are upset over how housing was decided. Earlier this school year when senior housing was decided, there were some students who experienced massive strife based on their inability to receive housing on campus. Today there are still approximately 113 seniors on the senior on-campus housing waitlist for the 2023-24 school year.
At the time of these issues, students on campus participated in sit-ins and asked the housing office for more transparency and accountability – to ultimately change some of the functionality of the new StarRez portal. This month, similar issues to those that came up for seniors are becoming present for rising juniors and sophomores.
On campus apartment selection took place last week and some students were dismayed by the distribution of time slots. The time slots, which according to the CC website housing page are based on class standing and credits earned (including credits earned through high school AP and IB programs), decide what time students are able to log in and pick housing. In the current first-come-first-serve system, the time slot one receives can make or break their selection opportunities.
However, some students were confused as to why they received worse timeslots than students of a lower class standing. When asked if StarRez accounts for this factor, the housing office failed to provide a clear answer.
Apartment time slot selection started on Wednesday, April 5 at 1 p.m. According to one rising junior who wished to stay anonymous, “all apartment slots were gone by 2:30 on Wednesday. I had absolutely no chance of getting an apartment with my Thursday slot.”
Some concern comes from the housing department’s claims on their website, of using credits earned in high school as part of the criteria for selecting housing. Coming into college with AP or IB credit means not only attending a high school that provides AP or IB classes, but also having the financial means to take AP tests that can cost anywhere from $95 – $145 per test. This can call into question notions of equity for students of lower socioeconomic status or students who went to high schools without these advanced options.
Emily Yu ’25 is one of the rising juniors who was not able to get into apartment housing next year. When they asked the housing office how high school credits were used to decide time slots, they were told that students that came into CC with credits would have higher time slots and that, “there isn’t a way to resolve this.”
GroupMe messages in the class of 2025 group chat responding to the apartment selection process ranged from students sharing petitions aimed at the housing office, requesting that the selection process be redone for the upcoming school year, to students acknowledging that the housing office is small and struggling to come up with solutions based on the truth that, with growing class sizes and stagnant housing options, CC just doesn’t have room on campus for all students to have the housing that would make them most comfortable.
Apartment selection wasn’t the only process that was met with significant changes. Language houses on campus also were met with a shake up as Culture Program Coordinators were no longer able to give insight into students that might benefit from language house programming. Language houses are unique in that they encourage students to speak the language in the house and they host events for the language throughout the year.
“They didn’t ask for our input this year…and it was incredibly frustrating,” said CPC Mariana Rodriguez. “There were students who I knew would benefit greatly from living in the language houses and some have been coming to me and talking about how they didn’t get in and I just have to say that I couldn’t do anything this year.”
She continues, “If it was up to me, these students are so involved in classes and the language on campus and they care so deeply, they would be in the house. But we don’t get to support students that way this year.”
The housing office does want to clarify that there were no major issues with the StarRez portal, contrary to some student reports that there was a glitch that prevented them from “checking out” their housing carts. Early on, there was “about a thirty second delay” within the portal says Edwin Hamada, the Assistant Vice President of Residential Experience at CC while meeting with students taking part in a housing office sit-in. While this error might have caused some issues in the selection, he says it shouldn’t have prevented students from logging in at their designated time.
Still, minor errors or not, some CC students believe that administration needs to take more responsibility for the living conditions of students.
“I live 15 minutes away from campus…it adds up – rent, gas and on top of that you still have utilities, and you have extra bills as well. The money that I’ve gotten from financial aid is enough to cover my rent, but sometimes it’s hard to afford to have an appropriate amount of groceries,” said Daisy Gomez Rivera ’24. “I’ve experienced what it’s like to live on campus and I felt secure here and I come from a low income family. I don’t have support from home … What are you going to do for all the seniors that are in the same position because housing selection was random?”
For Rivera, the realities of living off campus extend past being physically separated from the community – these are issues of support from a wealthy institution to its most marginalized students. One of the topics that was brought up was how, during the pandemic, there were shuttles that would take students from off-campus housing to CC. This service is no longer provided but could make a difference for students living in condominiums deeper in the Colorado Springs community.
Still these solutions won’t necessarily solve the heart of the issue, which is that, according to Hamada, CC “just doesn’t have enough housing.” He spoke about how a larger student population has growing needs.
Just yesterday, April 13, the housing office sent an email to the CC community describing the strain that housing on campus faced this year. “There is an incredibly high demand for apartment spaces among our student community,” wrote Hamada.
According to the email, there were over 200 rising seniors that requested housing for the 75 spots designated for seniors in the 2023-24 academic year. For rising sophomores and juniors, 1,075 indicated intent to live on campus. With only 400 apartment beds available, it is clear that the demand for apartment housing far exceeds what has been made accessible to students.
While there is a housing summit coming up, there are no plans yet for CC to build more housing for students.
CORRECTION: The initial version of this article said that 1,075 rising juniors indicated intent to live on campus. This number actually represents both sophomores and juniors.