STUDENTS SCRAMBLE FOR ROOMS AS MANY LOSE HOUSING GUARANTEE
By Lauren Sullivan, Staff Writer
The search is on. Mason students are scrambling for off-campus housing following an email saying all seniors are waitlisted for on-campus housing.
On Friday, Feb. 9, all students with more than 62 Mason credits that applied and paid the $300 deposit for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 housing received an email stating they were waitlisted and not guaranteed housing. The email comes one year after Mason began requiring all freshmen to live on campus and months before they plan to tear down Student Apartments.
“We were in growth mode for over a decade, but over the last three years we have had to reduce beds, largely due to taking down Student Apartments,” said interim Chief Housing Officer Jana Hurley, “We waitlisted people based on credits earned and those within commutable distance of the university, which we understand is debatable.”
According to Hurley, there are 311 fewer beds on-campus this year, but they have reduced this number to 100 through making forced double and triple rooms in buildings such as Northern Neck and Hampton Roads.
Students are panicking to search for alternative housing solutions and stressing about the implications of this decision on the rest of their time at Mason.
Many students that are heavily involved on campus are worried about how their involvement will be affected. Ashley Palmer, a junior out-of-state student from Hawaii, is involved in three organizations on campus: Mason Messengers, and two honor societies.
“If I live off campus I won’t be as connected to people as I am now,” Palmer said. “My entire housing group is now split up, and they’re such a big part of my college experience. I’m afraid this will make it harder for me to continue to be immersed at Mason for my final year here.”
Another out-of-state student, junior Nicole Brady, only has ten more credits until she can graduate. But not having housing makes her question if she can finish her degree.
“Not only has this housing situation negativity impacted where I will be living, but it’s also called into question whether or not I will be able to finish my degree,” Brady said. “It has me scared, because instead of applying to jobs and internships I’m being forced to look for housing or figure out how to finish my degree this summer.”
Many students now have the added stress of looking for off-campus housing like Brady, but junior Abbey Hummel is currently studying abroad in Oxford and cannot look for off-campus housing.
“Being abroad makes it harder because I feel like I can’t do anything about it,” Hummel said. “The only way I can correspond with anyone for housing is through email. I can’t go talk to anyone in person. And the five-hour time difference makes it really difficult.”
Not only does the time difference make securing housing difficult, but Hummel says she is unsure how she will afford to pay monthly rent, something many other waitlisted students are also stressing about.
“I would definitely have to get a job, which is something I previously haven’t had during school yet,” she said. “Then I’d have to deal with balancing work, school and my on-campus organizations.”
Junior Josh Biedrycki is stressing about the financial burden of off-campus housing as well, along with how he will be a commuter without a car.
“I have no idea what living in Fairfax is like and I don’t own a car. I am now in a bad spot with getting money to buy a vehicle along with paying for gas to go back and forth,” Biedrycki said. “Hopefully I can make the best out of this, but it was a big oversight in the Housing department.”
With Mason currently overselling the amount of parking spaces by 6,200, waitlisting over 700 seniors will increase the number of commuters and decrease the amount of parking spaces available even more.
Not only is the waitlist situation affecting rising seniors, it’s affecting underclassmen whose housing groups are being split up.
Sophomore Maddie Avila was going to live in flex housing next year, but then one of their group members got waitlisted. Flex housing requires groups of four, so now their whole group is being impacted. They are considering going off-campus.
“I will have to incur more personal and financial responsibilities than I was anticipating having to take on during what is going to be my most stressful year in college – junior year,” Avila said. “Living off campus also makes it a lot harder to connect with events on campus, as most are geared towards on-campus residents, and makes getting to and from campus something that requires much more effort and planning.”
Housing encourages those waitlisted to get in contact with Mason’s Off-Campus Student Services Office, which offers in-person appointments and online services to help educate students on off-campus living.
Despite the services Mason offers, countless students are feeling the impacts from the housing wait list situation. From financial burdens, to apartment searching stress, to finding new roommates, many Mason students are disappointed in the school that they have called home for three years.
“Not only am I mad about the situation for myself and everyone else this is affecting, but I’m really disappointed in my school. They’re letting down a lot of people. People that have given them time and money for over three years,” said Hummel.
Photo by Grant Smith