Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

New Housing Situation Provokes Controversy

Despite assurances by the Off-Campus Housing office that the prospects for finding housing are strong, many Georgetown students are disillusioned by the confusing messages being sent about guaranteed housing. A Town Hall meeting was held to address the concerns of rising juniors and seniors forced to live off campus because of the surge in on-campus housing needs, as well as other students who were confused about their housing options, last Friday.

According to Kathy Hess from the Office of Off-Campus Housing Referral Services, there is no need for students to panic.

“We can’t promise anything, but I’ve never had a student who couldn’t find housing,” she said.

Last year, Hess knew of approximately 270 properties available within a mile of campus in May, over 150 in June and over 100 as late as August. Because of these availabilities, students should take their time searching for housing, and they should not sign a lease until they are sure of what they want, she cautioned.

“You want to sign a lease as long as you see that your landlord has written confirmation from the current tenant that they will be leaving. If the tenant gets a job in the area or fails a class, they have first dibs on the property, and you will lose your housing,” Hess said.

The housing office has also set up a bulletin board online in order to help students find both housing options and potential roommates. Those two factors are often the greatest challenges for students going abroad because of the difficulty of finding a lease for a single semester.

To the surprise of many who attended the meeting, it now appears that the Housing Department is having trouble finding enough space even for sophomores. Director of Housing Services Shirley Menendez announced that all corner rooms in the new Southwest Quadrangle will be made from doubles into triples, and that Copley suites, originally in the apartment lottery, but subsequently vacated, will be in the upcoming residence hall lottery. As of last week, only students in the class of 2006 may enter the dorm lottery.

These changes stem from the requirement that all sophomores and first-years must live on campus, a stipulation that many students who attended the meeting suggested should be changed. It seems, however, that this is not possible.

“[This requirement] is made by the Georgetown community and cannot be changed,” Menendez said.

She also clarified that the only sophomores that will live in apartments next year are those who play sports that require them to remain on campus over winter break when residence halls are closed, and those with documented medical excuses.

Additionally, many students were shocked by the fact that the housing office, in a statement by Shirley Menendez, denied the fact that students of any year were guaranteed more than two years of housing.

“We have never guaranteed four years of housing – only two,” she said.

This comes as a surprise for many members of the class of 2006, who were under the impression that the university guaranteed them four.

“I thought that was the whole purpose of building the Southwest Quad,” Annie O’Brien (NHS ’06) said.

“I thought that’s why they built the Southwest Quad – for us, not the juniors and seniors,” John Kolleng (MSB ’06) said. “I thought that they were upgrading from three guaranteed years to four. It makes me a little angry, not because I would mind living off-campus, but because I would prefer to live on-campus and pay less.”

Some of the confusion may stem from admissions presentations, as well as tours for prospective students by the Blue and Gray. According to Blue and Gray tour guide Tessa Moran (NHS ’06), initially tour guides were tentative about discussing how many years of housing students were guaranteed. Eventually, however, the script that tour guides follow read, “Students who enter in 2006 or later will be virtually guaranteed four years of on-campus housing.” Guides were told not to discuss it too thoroughly, as it would be addressed in the admissions presentation before each tour.

Despite this, the housing Web site clearly states housing is only guaranteed for two years.

“First-year and sophomore students are guaranteed housing for those two years because they are required to live on campus. Junior and senior students may obtain on-campus housing through the housing lottery held in the spring semester,” it reads.

Regardless, in a letter to parents dated Nov. 18, Menendez wrote, “All juniors and seniors are eligible to live on campus and will have a wide variety of options from which to choose.”

Additionally, Menendez and Vice President for Facilities and Housing Karen Frank were quoted as saying “There should be ample housing to accommodate all who want to live on campus,” in the article “All Students Guaranteed Housing for Next Year” [THE HOYA, Nov. 8, p.1].

Some students think that the fact they were encouraged to live on-campus, if not guaranteed housing, is reason enough for housing to take some responsibility.

“I’d like to see them admit they’ve made a mistake and stop saying that they’d never promised us anything,” Beverly Good (COL ’05) said. “I would like to see the burden of off-campus housing to be placed on them.”

This housing office’s bulletin board can be accessed through the housing department’s website at

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