In an effort to make on-campus housing more enticing to seniors, the university has shifted the housing selection process to favor rising seniors over rising juniors and eliminate barriers to securing housing eligibility for seniors, the Office of Residential Living announced in an email to current freshmen and sophomores Tuesday.
The university will implement these changes over the course of the next two years, and the changes will take full effect in the 2015-2016 academic year.
In the new system, rising seniors will receive priority over rising juniors in the housing selection process — a reversal of the current rules — and rising seniors will all receive equal eligibility points, regardless of whether or not they study abroad in the fall of their junior year. Juniors will, however, retain an advantage in the initial eligibility application.
Currently, rising seniors on campus for junior fall receive three housing points, and those who study abroad during that time receive four points. Juniors also receive four points.
Beginning with the Class of 2016, all seniors will be allotted four housing selection points regardless of whether or not they go abroad; all juniors will receive three points.
Executive Director of Residential Services Pat Killilee saw the change as an opportunity to give approximately 500 eligible seniors the chance to live where they want.
“You could have these senior communities, so a group of seniors who want to live together on campus can all be in a townhouse, they could be in the Village A rooftops, they can be in a Nevils,” Killilee said.
Killilee viewed the study-abroad distinction as unnecessary.
“The students that we worked with — and this is based with their conversations and feedback with their peers — they didn’t feel that there needed to be that differentiation, that you shouldn’t get extra points because you lived off campus the fall semester of your junior year,” Killilee said.
Additionally, Killilee took care to incorporate student preferences into the new housing timeline announced in the email, which will take effect starting with the Class of 2017. The housing eligibility process will now take place during the late spring of sophomore year instead of in October, followed by selection, which currently takes place in March.
“Between 55 and 60 percent, depending on the survey, said they wanted to see the housing selection process all in the spring semester. And only about 30 percent of the students surveyed wanted to keep it the way it was,” Killilee said.
“We sort of looked at the residential experience and how to better that,” Georgetown University Student Association Campus Living External Board appointee Megan Murday (SFS ’15) said. “And so as part of those conversations we started talking about how students pick housing, and how that’s a really disruptive time for students, and that it’s very stressful and that it doesn’t seem to really work well with anyone’s schedule.”
The Office of Residential Living included students throughout the restructuring process, from brainstorming to reviewing potential ideas. The office created a focus group composed of Killilee, Murday, Inter-Residence Hall Council Representative Molly Egilsrud (SFS ’15) and GUSA Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14).
“We would meet with Pat just to sort of figure out how we could make a system that better suits the current and future realities of Georgetown, and how to bring students back on campus and upperclassmen back on campus,” Murday said.
Implementation of the new housing timeline was postponed to next year because of to complaints from sophomores planning to study abroad next fall who would have been excluded from the process, an unforeseen challenge of the new timeline. Although the sophomore housing selection process has not been changed yet, minor changes do remain a possibility.
“The only other thing that we’re looking at right now is to see if we can manipulate the system so that students can pick blocks of rooms with their friends,” Murday said. “We really want to build sophomore communities. And so part of that might be transplanting some of the freshman communities onto a new floor.”
“These policies and procedures that you use … very few are set in stone, you really have to revisit them, because student culture changes and student needs change,” Killilee said.
Students have expressed satisfaction with this change.
“I think that is good, because I know it’s pretty popular for a lot of seniors to live off campus, but that is really expensive. I know a lot of seniors, personally, who can’t afford to live off campus and who are looking to have on-campus housing all four years,” Austin Wolff (COL ’16), who will be a senior when the change takes effect, said. “To me, just to know that there’s more of an appreciation for seniors living on campus, I don’t see a problem with it.”
Molly Robustelli (COL ’16), who will also be a senior during the 2015-2016 school year, has already signed a lease for off-campus housing during that year.
“If I hadn’t already figured out housing, it probably would make me re-evaluate which years I would want to live off campus,” she said. “But I would still want to live off campus either junior or senior year.”