Campus / News / September 26, 2018

Students displaced due to housing difficulties

 

The Beta Theta Pi house is undergoing renovations that will be completed before the start of Winter Term. (Katy Coseglia/TKS)

Sophomores Sarah Lohmann and Emily Wallace were excited to live in Seymour Hall because of its centrality to campus, convenient facilities and large closets and rooms. However, the two were unexpectedly moved to other residences on campus during the summer.

Wallace mentioned that, until the middle of summer, she wasn’t sure where she was going to end up living. She eventually received an email from Housing Coordinator Craig Southern informing her and she had been placed in Eco House. Lohmann got a similar email in July that included a list of possible places she could choose to live with her block. Both Wallace and Lohmann expressed frustration at their experiences. However, Lohmann recognizes that nobody is to blame.

“I was very upset, just because I don’t like being inconvenienced in that way. I know it’s nobody’s fault in particular, it just sucked,” she said.

According to Southern, there were four factors that resulted in the displacement of several individuals over summer break. These consisted of: more students returning than had originally been predicted, the renovation of the Beta Theta Pi house, an increase in admitted freshmen throughout summer break and his desire to try something new with housing.

While Seymour 3B had originally intended to house all female-identifying students in single rooms, the suite now houses freshman boys as well as Beta members awaiting the renovation of their fraternity house. Southern said that the number of admitted freshmen rose from 350 to 386 over the summer, meaning that space in Seymour Hall was needed to house the freshman boys.

 

Senior and Beta member Malik Hamilton currently lives in Seymour 3B, and will move into the new Beta house before winter term. (Katy Coseglia/TKS)

 

Because Seymour Hall cannot be a co-ed floor due to the amount of bathrooms, Southern reported that he was unable to continue his plan of housing female-identifying students on a floor in Seymour. Southern had to move the eight or nine students into another area on campus, a task that proved to take time due to the overcrowding of other residences on campus.

Lohmann was especially dissatisfied with the prospect of living in a residence with a lower standard of living than that of Seymour or Post Halls. While Seymour wasn’t her first choice, she feels that the quality of living in Seymour is higher than that of Simmonds Hall, where she now lives.

“I wouldn’t mind being moved this time if I was being moved to a similar situation,” she said.

Wallace, who was moved into Eco House, was nervous about living so far from campus and many of her friends.

“My roommate especially was kind of freaked out by being off campus, really, when we had expected to be in the middle of campus,” Wallace said.

The two have since grown accustomed to their living situations, but are still frustrated at the lack of communication over the summer. Wallace mentioned that she wishes she had known about the changes sooner so she could spend less time worrying about her future living situation.

Although sophomore Isaac Milne was not moved out of Seymour, the overcrowding and inaccurate prediction of numbers landed him without a room until late during summer break.

As a rising sophomore, Milne was looking forward to some of the perks to upperclassman housing, such as being closer to the center of campus and having laundry facilities in the same building.

Milne wishes the administration would have been more transparent about the difficulties instead of merely telling the students it would be resolved soon. He feels that the reason he was eventually placed in the residence hall he hoped for was his persistence in figuring out the situation and emailing Southern.

Due to the increase in freshman boys over the summer, Beta members who expect to move into the newly renovated house are currently living in double rooms in suite 3B in Seymour, which they share with freshman boys. The 12-14 members had originally thought they would be living in single dorms on their own floor, but have accepted and adapted to the last minute changes.

According to senior and Beta member Malik Hamilton, not having a house means having to adapt some of their recruitment and social events, such as moving chapter meetings to Wilson House and not being able to host social events for the term. To Hamilton, this will both help and hurt the recruitment process.

“We’re not allowed to do informal [recruitment] class where we have people pledging this term, but it also kind of helps [with recruitment],” Hamilton said. “Just that there’s a new house they’re going to get to live in, that’s a major selling point that we can use this year.”

Senior and Beta member Tyler Podwojski doesn’t see the temporary move to Seymour as a detriment to the fraternity’s brotherhood or its success. He hopes it will give the fraternity an opportunity to make its presence as a group of individuals and not as a house.

“Some people refer to the fraternity as the Beta House, we like to refer to us as the fraternity, not just the house,” Podwojski said. “We’re going to have some trouble this trimester with being able to get together in the large public space that we’re used to but it won’t be a large hindrance at all. It’s only 10 weeks.”

Though this is a minor inconvenience to the Beta members, Podwojski is thankful to be a Beta during the renovation period. He mentioned how exciting it is to be seeing the end of the nearly eight-year process of planning and acquiring funds for the renovation.

“This is a temporary issue, and we feel that this is a very exciting time to be a Beta because we do have this light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “The active members who are living in Seymour Ð they realize that we’ll have a brand-new house to move into, just next year, and that it’s really exciting.”

Southern mentioned that the Betas as well as the students who were moved over the summer have been cooperating and adapting to changes well, with little conflict. He is looking forward to Winter Term, when the transition of Betas into their new house will open up housing in Seymour. However, he noted that he can still only place men in the open rooms for now.

In the future, Southern intends to work more closely with admissions when determining the housing situation for the upcoming years. While there is still no way to know how many students will enroll over the summer, Southern hopes that a more accurate report of the estimated incoming class will make situations of overcrowding less likely to occur. Though Southern can’t consider the situation a success due to having had to move people after having already placed them, he feels reassured that he was able to find solutions for those students as well as ways for them to have choices.

“Placing someone in a spot and having to move them during the summer is just not an okay thing,” he said. “At the same time . . .  I feel as though I gave people some options and ideas and it was nice to be able to call someone and say this is not the only place I can put you.”

Southern hopes to again be able to offer female-identifying students the opportunity to live in Seymour. He said that, to do this, he will work on preparing ahead of time for situations in which there may be more students needing housing than originally anticipated.

While Wallace and Lohmann are ultimately happy with their living situations, they worry about the coming years’ housing situations. They feel that one’s living situation is an important aspect in determining how well one performs in classes. Lohmann feels that basic tasks like showering, laundry and other forms of self-care become distracting if they are experienced negatively in uncomfortable spaces.

“Those experiences shouldn’t be things you dread doing because of living in a dorm,” she said. “If people are distracted by not enjoying where they’re living on campus then that can bleed into other parts of their experience.”

Sam Jacobson, Co-Mosaic Editor
Sam Jacobson is a junior majoring in philosophy and potentially minoring in creative writing or psychology. She started volunteer writing during spring term of her freshman year, and worked as a staff writer during her sophomore year.

Tags:  Beta-Theta-Pi Craig Southern fraternity housing Seymour Hall

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