Abroad and Abandoned
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 02:01
Emails from the Office of Residential Living usually attract little more attention than that required to click the delete button. But earlier this week, the fine print in a standard email from that office outlined a substantial change in Georgetown’s housing procedure that excludes those who plan to study abroad in fall 2014 from this spring’s housing selection process. The university should take action to negate the immediate effects of this change on current sophomores by postponing the implementation of the policy.
Until they received this email, many sophomores were fine-tuning plans for the housing lottery, finding younger students or others to unofficially agree to fill a spot in their apartment for one semester — the same as in years past. With study-abroad applications due in two weeks and the housing selection order posted just six days after that, sophomores who plan to be away from Georgetown in the fall will soon lose control over their junior-year housing.
Under the new policy, students abroad in the fall would not be able to create the informal arrangements that preserve apartment spots for their return in the spring. Many returning juniors might find themselves living in a randomly assigned Village C East room instead of in a deliberately selected apartment with a group of chosen friends.
This policy change not only throws a wrench into the living-learning experience of hundreds of Georgetown students — it, in a broader sense, punishes fulfillment of educational experiences that Georgetown encourages. The university touts its 57 percent study-abroad rate as a point of pride on campus tours and in brochures. And yet the specter of poor housing options could discourage future students from applying to fall programs and will undoubtedly weigh heavily on those who already have.
The university has its reasons for this policy change, and spiting students is likely not among them. But simplifying administrative processes should not be prioritized over the residential well-being of the student body.
Intent notwithstanding, excluding students who plan to study abroad from the housing lottery is still a decision that should have been made through thorough campus conversations of the policy’s academic and residential implications and with enough warning for current sophomores to plan accordingly. Postponing this policy change until that conversation can take place would ensure that its best version is implemented fairly for both students and Residential Living.