Jeremy Reiss, you're lucky to be leaving. I'm one of the 300-plus students who was not assigned to a room on campus for next year. After a trip to the housing office on the first floor of Hamilton College House, it seems to me that the root of this problem lies in the Admissions Office, not with the Department of Housing Services. But more incoming freshmen accepted Penn's offer of admission to the Class of 2003 than expected, and the Assignments Office was left with a dilemma as to what to do with these homeless first-year students. To keep students out of the hotels next year, it seems that Penn has denied more "unprotected upperclassmen" the option of living on campus, offering these spots to the freshmen to whom they have been promised. Yet, doing this so late in the housing process has flooded the already saturated off-campus housing market with rising sophomores (mostly) who will take anything they can get -- at any price. For students with tight budgets, the prospect of renting the last available apartment in the barracks-and-barbed-wire of Hamilton Court may in fact be more expensive than the equivalent unit on campus. And with four weeks left of classes, the last thing any student wants to do is fight the mad rush to get an apartment. Time to shop around or deliberate has been eliminated from the equation. This market is a truly competitive one, priced at what the market will bear, however socially unjust it may seem. This price is paid in money, time and effort, not to mention the worries that will continue until one's senior year, as Mr. Reiss ("Good space is hard to find," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 3/28/00) explained. This has been brought about through the combined lack of coordination between two otherwise-unconnected branches of Penn's administration, and now it seems that a few percent of the students who wanted to live on campus have slipped through the cracks. There are many who have complained about Penn's housing system in the past, myself included. On the other hand, many complain about the disreputable landlords, high rents and non-existent services associated with off-campus living. Others marvel at the lack of a viable alternative to the alienating pseudo-community of the high rises, such as dormitory-style living for upperclassmen. From what I have heard and read, I understand that Penn is trying to realize our dreams over the next decade, all for the modest price of $300 million. Right now, I just want a place with a roof. Otherwise, I'm going to take my sleeping bag and pillow, and set up shop in Rosengarten. It has a bathroom and climate control. It is quiet, and a better choice than Wawa for 24-hour accommodations. I may be there a while, I'm told, but if I get hungry, lonely or bored, I'll call 300 fellow classmates and we'll bring in TVs and fridges. This issue may not be as morally uplifting as sweatshop reform, but let's face it -- "the alcohol policy sucks!" bit has gotten tired, and this is something that just might be worth protesting.Comments powered by Disqus
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