Over Christmas vacation, every resident student received anupbeat letter from Residence Life explaining the new “housinglottery” which could possibly displace 350 residents. The housinglottery is being held due to an increase in freshman studentshoping to live on campus. Students can enter the lottery by handingin a $500 deposit but there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to stay.The letter from the Director of Residence Life, Gary Bice, outlinesoptions for possible living solutions next year, which includeoff-campus housing, commuting, or moving to the Manhattan Campusaltogether. Because final plans haven’t been drawn up yet, studentshave been in the dark about the lottery ever since this letter.Even though Bice promised a packet from Residence Life in Marchexplaining the situation, it may bring up more questions thenanswers.
St. John’s knows that upcoming juniors and seniors have too manycredits to transfer to another school. Whatever the Residence Lifepacket says, it won’t be enough to drive students away, instead itwill merely cost them time and money.
“It basically comes down to numbers,” said Gary Bice. Growth isimportant to St. John’s, and accepting freshman into the ResidenceVillage is imperative to that, but the problem arises when St.John’s burns bridges with their current upperclassmen in theprocess. The administration is implementing this clever strategy toincrease their profit, while resident veterans wait eagerly.
While off-campus housing is commonplace for upperclassmen inmany universities, it is important to note that the practices andintentions of these schools are well publicized to the studentsbefore they start attending school. When asked whether or not it isethically sound to commence with the lottery, Gary Bice said “Somewould view it as a problem and some would view it as growth.”
According to a Resident Assistant, St. John’s lost the leases tomost of their off campus housing. Apparently, certain communitiesdo not approve of St. John’s students living near them, and theactions of a few troublemakers might not bode well for otherstudents trying to find housing. St. John’s is unclear on how theyplan to regain housing for students, but residents remain hopefulthat answers will be provided in the March packet. Students willstill be aided by St. John’s in their search for housing butregardless of that, these questions should have been answered in amore timely fashion.
One of the biggest problems with off-campus housing is mostapartments only offer a one-year lease. Students won’t be able toreturn home during breaks because they’ll be paying for housingthey aren’t living in. The surrounding area is not designed forcollege students and there isn’t much housing that offers leasesfor individual semesters.
“The natural progression is for students to move off campus,”said Bice. Most students don’t mind the idea of finding housingbecause it provides independence and freedom from campus life.Despite this, I think residents would have appreciated a warningbefore they came to this school about the possibility of beingkicked off campus to live.
“I live in Maine and need to go back home during the breaks. IfI knew St. John’s could potentially kick me off I wouldn’t havecome,” said Colette Bazylinski
The lottery is a catch-22. Some students would like to transferto another college but until finalized information comes out we areunable to make informed decisions.
I just hope the incoming freshman don’t have to hold a walk outfor the homeless for their fellow alumni when this is all said anddone. I think St. John’s will help students get housing and thiswill be sorted out. But, they did it too late, without properwarning when we originally applied, and in the end students mightbe extremely unhappy with the housing arrangements theyreceive.