Upperclassmen struggle to get off housing waiting list

Biola housing tries to balance housing requirements and finding a place for displaced upperclassmen.

Christine Chan, Writer

Upperclassmen on the waiting list have received emails from Housing notifying them that they will learn by June 15 whether they have a place to live on campus.

Dependant on cancellations

Heidi Herchelroath, Housing manager, said that there have been a handful of cancellations, which has allowed some upperclassmen and a few international students to be placed in rooms. From this point on, housing for upperclassmen is dependent on cancellations over the next few months.

“At every university, when there’s a wait list, as soon as we have cancellations, we put people in and contact them right away,” Herchelroath said.

New Off-Campus Housing Service

For dormless upperclassmen who are looking for off-campus housing or additional housemates, Commuter Life is setting up an Off-Campus Housing Service, which is set to officially launch on July 1. It is linked to a third-party website Off-Campus Housing 101, which serves as a rapidly growing database of local housing and roommate resources.

“We’ve been researching this for almost two years,” Jenny Matthes, coordinator of Commuter Life, said. “It’s totally separate [from Housing]. We saw a need on our campus for students to have a place online where they can go and find listings and look at pictures.”

Matthes described it as much more interactive than searching for housing on Biola’s classifieds, which was impossible for incoming students to access, due to the necessity of having a student ID number to log in.

Dispelling rumors

Biola administration is also working to reassure students and correct the rumors that the incoming freshmen class displaced many current undergraduates.

“The fall 2011 new student class is planned to be approximately 50 students fewer than last year’s incoming class in order to remain below the enrollment cap,” André Stephens, the senior director of undergraduate admissions, said. “Most of the new students will be tripled in order to meet their housing needs and to accommodate our current students.”

According to Stephens, the number of returning students desiring on-campus housing was also higher than anticipated.

“We have way more upperclassmen pursue [on-campus housing] this year than ever before, and not just numbers-wise, but percentage-wise,” Herchelroath said. “That’s a new trend, so we’ll have to keep an eye out for that in the future.”

Meeting Biola requirements

Because Biola requires that all freshmen and sophomores must live on campus, all wait-listed underclassmen have been placed in a dorm, while homeless upperclassmen have remained fixed on the waiting list.

Sophomore Breanna Williams is one of 61 remaining upperclassmen who have been placed on a waiting list for on-campus housing after dorms quickly filled up during the room selection process that ran April 11 through April 22.

Williams, who had been hoping to move from Horton to Stewart, was initially upset but has since then come to terms that she most likely will not live in a dorm next year.

“I’m actually kind of excited about looking for a house, but it’s different when you’re forced to,” Williams said.

”We the Students” created

For other wait-listed upperclassmen, however, waiting up to another month to find out if they have housing for the 2011-2012 year is not helpful while searching for off-campus living options.

Laura Anderson, a junior on the waiting list, expressed disappointment over the fact that upperclassmen are seemingly forced against a rock and a hard place.

“It kind of sucks,” Anderson said. “If you make arrangements with friends to live off campus, you can’t leave them last minute, so you’re kind of stuck. I wish that we could find out sooner so we wouldn’t go into summer feeling sort of homeless.”

Anderson’s roommate, junior Cassidy Perry started a page on Facebook in an attempt to provide a space where students can make suggestions about the housing problems.

Perry, who transferred to Biola this past year, described the abating frustrations on campus as a result of people giving up because they were tired of fighting.

Sarah Ballard, a current freshman, was placed in Thompson Hall after being placed on the waiting list.

Ballard and her roommate were happy with their new room assignment.

“We have a double in Thompson, which is such a blessing,” Ballard said. “We’re super thankful for that. It went from ‘we dislike Housing’ to ‘we like Housing’ because it got us what we wanted.”

Stephens echoed Ballard’s sentiments as a reflection of Biola’s goals.

“Biola leadership is aware of both the blessings and the challenges of a growing student body. We are committed to listening to feedback and to providing solutions for our students,” Stephens said.

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