Winthrop To Lose Many Senior Singles

Dreams of coveted senior suites evaporated for Winthrop juniors with a surprise announcement over the House’s e-mail list yesterday morning.

The e-mail declared the end of “n+1” housing for seniors in Winthrop—where n is the number of residents—a perk that the House’s oldest students have traditionally enjoyed after rising through the ranks of “n-1” and “n” housing.

The announcement was met with a flurry of responses from confused and angry residents.

While rising seniors will continue to be first in the housing lottery that is scheduled to occur after spring break, suites will no longer have an extra room in addition to a single for each resident.

Instead, rising seniors will only be able to pick suites with a number of rooms that is equal to the number of residents lotterying as a group—the same set-up they had as juniors this year.

“I’m really just mad about the fact that they are doing this right now,” said William C. Quinn ’10 of the announcement’s proximity to the lottery deadline in April. “It’s very unfair to [juniors].”

Rooming arrangements based on the architecture and population of the House will replace the unofficial practice of granting seniors suites in which every resident has a single and no one lives in the common room.

Senior housing has become the reward for enduring small sophomore and junior rooms, Quinn said.

“Everyone that is a sophomore or a junior would be OK with the housing that they have if they knew that they would have the chance for better housing senior year,” he said.

The new policy will reduce the number of quads and doubles, but will increase the number of triples in the House.

“Basically the College’s policy is to guarantee everyone with guaranteed housing a bed, and that is more or less where they leave it,” said Ariel Quezada who is acting as the Winthrop House administrator in the absence of Karen J. Reiber.

In an e-mail distributed over the list to Winthrop residents late last night, House Master Stephen P. Rosen ’74 apologized on behalf of the House administration for making the decision without consulting Winthrop residents.

“You deserve the full back story, and the opportunity to discuss this with us, and to have a say in deciding the new housing policy,” Rosen wrote.

Rosen cited a larger-than-anticipated sophomore and junior class as the underlying reasons for the current housing crunch.

The e-mail outlined two alternatives to the plan presented in the earlier e-mail, but emphasized that all three options would require “major tradeoffs.”

The current plan will spread the burden of overcrowding more equally among Winthrop residents, Rosen said. “It would make it possible for every Winthropian to have their own room, even [if] it is a common room.”

Over a year ago, the College convened a Space Assessment Committee to collect comprehensive data on all of the residential space at the College.

The committee’s recommendations were assessed by the Office of Residential Life (ORL)—a University Hall group in charge of housing decisions—in the summer of 2007, and their findings are largely seen as the basis for many of the changes enacted by the Houses this year.

Associate Dean for Residential Life, Suzy M. Nelson declined to comment for this story yesterday.

The announcement comes just two days before Housing Day, when current freshmen will be placed into one of 12 upperclassmen Houses.

Just two weeks ago, Dunster announced that the House will receive fewer freshmen in the housing lottery, increasing the number of singles and easing the burden on the cramped quarters.

College administrators have remained tight-lipped about where these students will be relocated.

In stark contrast to the developments in Winthrop, residents of Lowell House can expect more senior suites, said Elizabeth Terry, a house administrator, in an interview yesterday. Similar to the situation in Dunster, the changes in Lowell result from an effort to minimize the number of rooms that have been deemed unsafe in how crowded they have traditionally been.

Quincy House Master Lee Gehrke denied widespread rumors that the House will partition common rooms in order to make room for more students.

“The whole process, at this point in time, is in flux,” he said. “We’re anticipating numbers may go up by perhaps five, but nothing huge.”

Pforzheimer House, known for granting a majority of its residents singles for all three years, will not be receiving additional students, according to Suzanne Watts, the PfoHo house administrator.

Watts said that any recommendations made by the ORL were made based on information about the physical space available in each House.

“I think they were just trying to go by square footage,” she said, “and make sure that no one person is too crowded and that we use our space as efficiently as we can.”

—Charles J. Wells contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Abby D. Phillip can be reached at adphill@fas.harvard.edu.