Campus Alienation

Since the beginning of the academic year, it has been evident that the housing situation at St John’s has become a serious problem. Space has been limited in the dorms for the past few years, with an ever increasing number of juniors and seniors denied housing. These upperclassmen are forced to look elsewhere, either through the University’s off-campus housing, or independently searching for an apartment through classified ads. However, considering the time constraints and the volume of students who will need housing, it is doubtful that University will be able to compensate them in time.

The problem proved to be worse than expected. Earlier this year, some returning students were forced to stay at the Holiday Inn because of a severe housing shortage. The University attempted to remedy the situation by packing four freshmen in rooms meant for three or even two students. Not only were the new cramped quarters uncomfortable for many students, it was also dangerous. It has become increasingly evident that the University has to take serious measures in order to alleviate this situation, either by continuing their efforts in purchasing off-campus housing or limiting the school’s intake of new students.

The problem has arisen mainly because of the steady increase in the acceptance of freshmen. Many of these new students apply for housing and will receive it because the University guarantees housing for freshmen. As a result, Donovan Hall is becoming drastically overcrowded, and more of the other buildings in the Residence Village are being turned into freshmen dorms.

The first solution was presented in the construction of townhouses, which will be “located opposite St. Augustine Hall near the Great Lawn,” according to the Jan. 24 issue of The Torch. On Jan. 23, an informational meeting was held in the Little Theatre to discuss the second solution and officials explained that the idea was to make dorming a total experience, with freshmen and sophomores living on campus while upperclassmen expected to live in off-campus housing.

The new off-campus apartments will be University owned and will therefore be run in a similar fashion to the Residence Village. Each apartment will be furnished by the University and will be served by Public Safety. St. John’s will also try to keep all of the apartments relatively close to campus, somewhere within a half mile.

In order to make this plan work, St. John’s will need to purchase a very large amount of real estate in a very short period of time and the overcrowding issue puts pressure on students who reside out of state or travel great distances to get to school. These students are in need of housing somewhere on or near campus and rely on St John’s for help with housing. Purchasing enough properties to accommodate these upperclassmen by the Fall 2007 semester is a rather lofty goal.

When asked about the growing issue, second-year pharmacy student Christine Chim said, “Juniors and seniors should still have housing on campus based on need. It isn’t fair that people who were dependent on dorming here were rejected.”

The construction of new dorms is a good start, and off-campus housing is not necessarily an impractical idea. The real issue is time. The housing problem faces us today, and the townhouses and apartments will not be ready soon enough.

Cutting down on the number of accepted freshmen is an excellent way to keep the demand for housing manageable until suitable places have been built or purchased.