Juniors and seniors who plan on living in the residence halls next school year may not secure their dream room due to a new housing sign-up process that will be implemented this winter.
University Housing sent an e-mail to all current residents on Tuesday detailing the new process, which utilizes reverse seniority and begins in January. Students who have lived in University Housing for fewer semesters will have first priority in the room selection process, and students with the most terms in residence halls will have the lowest priority.
University Housing spokesman Peter Logan said the closing of Baits I and the renovation of East Quad Residence Hall called for the review and change of the housing sign-up process because there could be between 150 and 300 fewer beds for students in the residence halls.
“You really don’t know ultimately how the demand for space among returning for students is going to balance … until we get into the sign-up process,” Logan said. “Nevertheless, we wanted to make sure we had the right criteria in place.”
Director of University Housing Linda Newman said University Housing worked with the Residence Halls Association, Housing staff and the Student Housing Advisory Board in crafting the new process. Newman said RHA and University Housing endorse reverse seniority since it gives younger students a better chance of living in a supportive residence hall community.
“The RHA assembly started with privileging seniors and then really evolved to the younger students actually have a greater need for the programs, resources and staffing that come with the residential environment,” Newman said.
RHA President Haley Prasad, an LSA sophomore, said another factor RHA took into consideration before passing the resolution for reverse seniority housing was that it is easier for upper classmen to find off-campus housing.
“With the way Ann Arbor leasing signings work, you have to kind of have something figured out by November and a lot of freshmen don’t feel prepared to make those kinds of decisions at that time,” Prasad said. “We think that students, as they are older … are probably more familiar with the way housing in Ann Arbor works.”
While University Housing will not provide students with alternate housing if they are not granted a spot in a residence hall, Newman said students who look for leases in the winter are typically able to find off-campus housing.
Prasad said she hopes the new process doesn’t deter students from applying to live in the residence halls out of fear they may not be granted a spot. She added, however, that fear existed for students even with the former seniority sign-up process.
“For sophomores, there always was that fear in previous years … about what if you don’t get the dorm of your choice,” Prasad said. “It’s just that the fear is placed on a different group of students (now).”
After hearing about the new sign-up procedure, LSA sophomore Killian Rohn started a petition to convince RHA to remove their resolution supporting reverse seniority sign-up. Rohn said she thinks the new process will push juniors and seniors out of residence halls.
“I think it’s a social justice issue that (University Housing is) basically telling juniors and seniors, we don’t want you,” Rohn said. “ … I think if they were to keep it this way, I think the trend would become we expect freshmen and sophomores to live in the dorms, and we don’t want juniors and seniors.”
Rohn added that there is only a slight possibility that there would be a shortage of beds since a low percentage of juniors and seniors typically return to the residence halls. She said only 16 percent of upperclassmen lived on campus this year.
“Why is someone who’s paid multiple terms of housing and tuition … would say, ‘I want to stay because I might not get the room that I want or might not get the dorm that I want?’” Rohn said.
Rohn and four other students attended RHA’s assembly meeting last night and voiced their concerns about the new sign-up process during Resident’s Time — a portion of the meeting in which 10 residents have two minutes each to speak. The assembly consists of representatives from each residence hall on campus.
At the meeting, Rohn suggested RHA should solve the issue of a potential lack of housing by “increasing density by turning spacious doubles into triples” instead of implementing reverse seniority sign-up.
Engineering sophomore Jeff Cwagenberg also spoke during Resident’s Time and said he is concerned about why underclassmen could choose to stay in Housing since they now have first priority of rooms.
“Why does Housing want to keep these freshmen who may not have an interest in the community, (who are) deciding to stay in based on the place they are living?” Cwagenberg said. “This forces out juniors and seniors that have invested interest in the community.”