Charles Nailen/The Hoya The completion of the Southwest Quad will open 780 new beds.

As students currently get ready for next semester’s classes, many are already worrying about their housing situation for next fall. In response, the Student Association’s Housing Committee hosted a Student Housing Forum, attended by approximately 30 to 40 students on Thursday night. The forum gave insight into how students should prepare for next year’s housing situation.

GUSA Community Relations Advocacy Committee vice chair Matt Wolinski (COL ’04) said this event was very successful. “Hopefully since the correct information is out there now, people won’t have to stress as much over housing questions for next year . I think that the main success of the housing forum was letting people know that there are many good options out there,” Wolinski said.

Committee co-chair Eric Lashner (COL ’05) also said that the event was informative to students. “With all the changes in on-campus housing it is a bit confusing about what is guaranteed and what is `virtually’ guaranteed, but the forum was a good place where students could get clarification,” Lashner said.

The forum was part of GUSA’s attempt to help students improve their housing situations. GUSA Housing and Facilities Chair Brian Morgenstern sent a letter outlining the inadequacies of the Office of University Facilities and Student Housing to Vice President for Facilities and Student Housing Karen Frank on Oct. 29. The letter spoke of dangerous and unlit areas of campus, and students who had trouble obtaining keys to their apartments and repairs for holes in their walls.

Morgenstern was informed by Frank’s office over a week later that a meeting could not be arranged before Nov. 20, according to a GUSA press release. GUSA assures students, however, that it will continue to address these housing and facility concerns.

“I am committed to changing the way that our university’s housing and facilities departments deal with some of their most important customers – the student body . I look forward to working with members of the faculty and administration to resolve problems that affect students’ lives on a day-to-day basis,” Morgenstern said in the press release.

The housing forum commenced with Director of Housing Services Shirley Menendez announcing that next fall, for the first time, all undergraduate students will be eligible for on-campus housing due to the construction of the Southwest Quadrangle. The new dorm will provide 870 additional beds for students.

Menendez explained the point system that will be used in the housing lottery. Rising seniors who did not receive on-campus housing this year will receive four points each. Other rising seniors will receive three points, while rising juniors will receive two points and rising sophomores will receive one point. Students will enter the lottery as a team and the teams with the most total points will receive top priority.

Menendez then addressed what type of housing will be available next year, saying she believes that rising juniors and seniors will choose most of the apartments and townhouses. She estimates, however, that about 300 rising sophomores will probably end up living in apartments.

Menendez also discussed the implications associated with the new Southwest Quadrangle project. The new three-building complex will contain 150 single rooms, some of which are on higher floors and have pleasant views, which may be chosen by rising juniors and seniors. As a result of the abundance of single rooms, there will be a separate single room lottery before the regular lottery. However, the Southwest Quadrangle is still expected to house mostly sophomores.

Menendez concluded by explaining that the trial run of the of the new online housing selection system failed, so the process will probably be done by hand again after students sign up on their computers. “There were technical difficulties which we are analyzing,” she said. “The program is being rewritten and we anticipate that it will be online for the 2004-05 academic year.”

Kathy Hess, Director of the Office of Off-Campus Housing Referral Services, who maintains website listings of off-campus housing opportunities in the areas surrounding campus in addition to mediating conflicts between students and their landlords, warned students not to panic if they did not yet have housing for next fall. She also advised students not to put money down on an off-campus house too early, because the individuals currently residing there have the right to stay if they choose to do so. Students wishing to live off-campus should not start worrying until arch, she said.

The next speaker was local landlord Jim Mula, who noted how landlords used to be able to provide very poor conditions but could still rent out townhouses and apartments for inflated prices because some students were always forced off campus. This year with the new dormitory, students have more options and can take their time looking for a well-maintained apartment. Mula also expressed relief that local landlords will now have to make improvements to dilapidated houses.

Julie Fultz, coordinator of Off-Campus Student Life spoke last. She coordinates off-campus orientation and educates students about local ordinances regarding issues such as trash and noise. Fultz further emphasized the change in housing arrangements for next year. “Students do not have to live in substandard housing,” Fultz said.

GUSA also made students aware of the database of off-campus houses for Georgetown students available at www.georgetown.edu/organizations/GUSA/files/offcampus.xls.

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