On Friday, April 9, first-years at Fairfield University participated in their very first housing lottery. I, being one of those individuals, can say that it did not go as expected.
This is not to say by any means that the process was unfair or that Residence Life did not do their job properly. In fact, I would like to exclaim right off the bat that Residence Life has, and continues to do an exquisite job in allocating housing to students and ensuring equity in opportunity. Furthermore, all of the office hours offered and resources made available to us students have been more than helpful in answering any questions we may have towards the lottery process.
Having said that, it was still challenging for me and a lot of other fellow students I exchanged conversations with following the lottery process, to not feel upset with how things turned out. A lot of students did not get into the suite-style housing, with seventy groups on the waitlist, and are faced with the high probability of having their group split up and placed in dorm-style housing.
Without any sense of control, we now have to patiently wait over the course of the summer in hopes of suite-style housing opening up ,or choose to partake in a post-housing lottery where dorm-style housing is offered in either 70 McCormick Road or Loyola Hall.
Although participating in office hours previously and utilizing the resources offered by Residence Life and knowing full well that not everyone would be able to get suite-style housing for next year, it still came as a complete shock to receive an email that my group was not even given a time for the housing lottery. As this was my first experience, I had originally conceived that everyone was given a time and it was just a matter of whether or not housing was still available by the time you were chosen to select.
Receiving this email, I immediately felt left out in a sense. This feeling was fairly abrupt, however, with texts swarming my phone from my potential roommates and other classmates. Out my window, I heard a group of girls shout across the quad to their friends anxiously that their group had been split up, as well. In the hall, outside my room, I heard a group of boys exchange the same frustration and as the hours went on, I had heard of more and more people in a similar boat.
I began to think to myself… well we all knew this was a potential outcome… why are we still all so upset?
Although some may think the answer to this question is an easy one, “because our group was split up and we are not getting suite-style housing,” I don’t think that’s it. Quite frankly, I don’t care that much about whether or not I’m living in a suite with three of my friends or a dorm room with one of my friends. Of course if given the choice I would prefer the suite, I would not say this was the anchoring of my disappointment by any means.
What came to unsettle me is the physical separation between the dorm-style offerings and suite-style. What’s referred to as The Village on campus is found behind the library, easily a ten to fifteen minute walk from the quad. In The Village, rising sophomores who were granted suite-style housing live in either Faber Hall, Kostka Hall or Claver Hall, which are all side-by-side. From my understanding, students’ Stag cards also can access any of the buildings, due to laundry purposes. Perhaps in normal times and not COVID-19, this is typical for everybody here, but being a first-year all my experience has been is restricted access to only my building of Campion Hall.
If split up and placed in Loyola or McCormick Hall, I will once again be living in the quad, out of sight from the majority of my friends who will be living in The Village. This is where I believe the height of students’ disappointment is, when it comes to dorm-style living sophomore year.
Excluding Residential Colleges, which are filled with students who applied, are offered special courses, and have suite-style housing within their buildings, it feels as though we are relatively secluded. I admit a ten to fifteen minute walk isn’t awful at all, but bad weather conditions as the colder months roll in may still serve as challenging to venture into for some.
In a perfect world, it would seem to me that all sophomores, and all grade levels for that matter, should be housed relatively close to all others in their same grade. I believe this helps build a sense of community, prevents others from feeling left out, and just makes sense. In a slightly less perfect world, I at least believe that if a split was to occur, all Residential College students would be housed close together, and similarly with all non-Residential College students.
But again, this is just a perfect world scenario, and reality creates many more obstacles to factor in. Styles of housing and what is fair for each grade level, the reality that you can’t just pick up Loyola Hall and move it to the village, special housing accommodations for students, altering class sizes each year, and so on.
There is nothing Residence Life could do to fix this heartache. The campus is already beautifully set up, with the rooms built the way that they are, and the layout remaining unaltered. It’s impractical to think of the amount of construction or replanning that would have to be achieved to retain the perfect world scenario.
I do, however, think it’s worth mentioning and being talked about. If campus had not already been built the way it is, the perfect world scenario wouldn’t be unachievable by any degree. It’s simply a matter of layout, which I believe to have caused the most devastation from non-residential students denied suite-style housing.