Flames of the Torch

The end of each semester brings a great deal of stress into the lives of college students.

Finals are approaching, spring break plans need to be finalized, and summer internships or jobs need to be applied for.

Resident students deal with the added pressure of the room selection process. They have to figure out where they want to live, with whom, and whether they have the qualifications to do so.

In the short history of St. John’s residential housing, the room selection process has followed a system that awards housing to students based on merit, rather than seniority. This year, however, that has changed.

There have actually been a number of changes to the housing selection process. The most sweeping change, though, has been to the points system.

Previously, housing was based on a 20-point system where a maximum of ten points was based on GPA and ten on judicial history. This placed all students, regardless of year, on the same playing field.

A freshman who earned a high GPA and did not have many violations had the same chance to get into on-campus dorms as a junior who did the same.

This system clearly favored those who did well in class and kept out of trouble in the dorms. It rewarded those who proved they could handle living away from home and balancing their social and academic lives.

This semester, a new system has been instituted that incorporates one’s year as a factor in the selection process. The same 20 points from GPA and judicial history remain, though that base number is now multiplied depending on seniority.

Freshman housing points remain the same, sophomore points are doubled, juniors’ are tripled, and remaining seniors or upperclass pharmacy students have a multiplier of four.

This is a total reversal of the University’s previous policy favoring academic and judicial excellence
over seniority.

When asked about this change, administrators explained that many upperclassmen have requested that they be given some priority over students with fewer credits.

While this is a reasonable issue for debate, and many other universities take seniority into account for housing, the way that St. John’s has implemented it seems a little extreme.

A freshman who maintained a good GPA and had no violations can receive a maximum of 20 points. A junior who does the same will receive three times as many points due to the new multiplier.

This also means that a junior who received only eight housing points because of judicial violations or a lower GPA would still receive 24 points and, therefore, a higher priority than the conscientious freshman.

Again, the decision to make seniority a priority is not the problem. It is the execution that could perhaps use some rethinking. Adding additional points based on year would be much less extreme than multiplying one’s housing points.

Rather than a 20-or-40-point margin separating freshmen from sophomores or juniors, there could be a rift of only about ten points. This would be enough to give upperclassmen an edge while making sure freshmen still have a chance.

The end of the semester is stressful enough for residents already, without adding the fear that a student has no shot at getting into the dorms merely because of the amount of time they have spent at St. John’s.