Stella Tavilla

UVM housing selection went way wrong

May 2, 2023

UVM Residential Life has become public enemy number one just before the conclusion of this school year. Affected students are dishing out heavy criticism on mishandled housing assignments for the fall. 

Rising sophomores make up the majority of victims of this housing mishap. They must endure another year of dorm life, not yet ready to face the Burlington housing market. 

They were freed from room choices based on Learning Communities and instead introduced to the anarchy of credit counts and time slots. 

Rising sophomores were sorted into time slots for room selection based on their earned credits, according to UVM ResLife.

Dates for room selection began as early as March 23 and continued until April 21, according to the ResLife room selection schedule

Honors College students were given priority selection, and therefore free reign over all residential options on campus. They were also granted monopoly over the notoriously nice University Heights, thus eliminating the opportunity for anyone else to claim any of the well-regarded dorm buildings. 

I know students who registered as roommate groups also ran into issues: doubles were being filled by individuals, leaving triples as the only available options for these students—once registered as a group, there was no turning back and selecting a single, according to student accounts. 

The ResLife office was contacted for their input on housing selection and declined to comment. 

Sophomore Holly Zatz and first-year Ella Keebler entered the housing portal courageously, arm in arm at 4:26 p.m. on April 5.

“We submitted our form on time. We logged on to the housing portal and we started going through all the doubles and they were all taken,” Keebler said. 

“They were all triples with two people in them and one open spot, or they were doubles with one spot taken by someone who was a single,” Zatz said. “We literally could not pick a single one except for Trinity and Jeanne Mance.” 

Zatz and Keebler are currently grappling with their assignment to a forced triple in a Trinity suite. 

First-year Maya Krishnan is still unsure where she and her roommate will be living. They were given a 4:57 p.m. time slot on April 5, despite both having taken 16 to 17 credits last semester. 

“Finally, we got Jeanne Mance and it was literally the only room available, like not even [the] only room in Jeanne Mance, just the only room available,” Krishnan said. “We toured the next day and just found that it wasn’t the greatest atmosphere, it’s far from campus, it’s far from everything.”

Krishnan became worried about how her living situation would affect her overall well-being. The distance from Jeanne Mance to the other campuses, as well as the building’s social environment, prompted her to reach out to administration. 

The desperation of students like Zatz, Keebler and Krishnan to avoid dorms far from the majority of other students and academic buildings speaks to the discrepancies between living situations. 

While many students may be satisfied with their assignments to Athletic, Redstone and Central, a large portion of the student body is excluded from that environment—literally. 

More than 5,700 students live across the four campuses, according to the UVM ResLife webpage. Athletic is the largest, followed by Redstone and then Central, according to the same webpage. 

Jeanne Mance is considered part of Trinity campus despite being a 15-minute walk from the other residential halls. 

This means 86% of the on-campus student body population lives outside of the Trinity campus, which is a 12-minute walk to Central, 19 minutes to Athletic and 26 minutes to Redstone, according to Google Maps

Krishnan and her roommate turned to the ResLife office for any alternative options.

“They were just like ‘nothing can be done,’” Krishnan said. 

Their last resort was Student Accessibility Services

“There is a housing accommodation: it’s a no Jeanne Mance, no Trinity combination. And I think that kinda speaks for itself the fact that there’s a reason that someone would need to not be placed on Trinity and Jeanne Mance because it’s so isolated,” she said. 

SAS was far more sympathetic towards Krishnan’s situation and acknowledged that placement in some buildings is far from ideal.

If the UVM administration is aware of these serious downsides, it’s hard for students like Krishnan to understand why year-long living situations like these are offered to students as if they are equal to any other campus dorm. 

Krishnan and her roommate were told they would be moved elsewhere because of the legitimate health-related reasons they presented, but that the moving process could be delayed until this summer or even after they arrive on campus in the fall. 

“It feels very similar to the timeline of Trading Spaces if nothing can actually be done at this point,” Krishnan said in response.

Although SAS was receptive to Krishnan’s concerns, the services they provide are not an instant solution or applicable to most. Documentation is required for review by SAS according to the SAS webpage

SAS may be reliable in many cases, but housing accommodations aren’t guaranteed and the application process can be difficult and lengthy considering the center’s documentation guidelines. In addition, the accommodations application deadline for Fall 2023 passed on February 25.

Unintentionally or not, ResLife created a lottery system. Students who had accumulated more credits found themselves with later time slots than others with less. 

“I know people who took 13 to 14 credits last semester and got super early morning spots, so it’s just total luck,” Krishnan said. 

If UVM notified students that selection would be scheduled on the basis of credits, the rules would’ve been clear: those who get their first choices do so in an organized way and those who don’t are given an understandable reason as to why. Randomizing time slots undermines this neat, proposed plan and results in uncertainty. 

And there is only more chaos to come. With the Trading Spaces program, ResLife can expect students to be frantic about leaving crammed and isolated dorms and to be looking for help in doing so once school resumes next semester.

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