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Before Spring Break, the Housing Office revealed that over 40 percent fewer students applied to transfer houses this spring than at the same time last year. This decline in the number of requests is likely affected by substantial changes in the house transfer process. By introducing new restrictions into the transfer procedure, the Faculty Committee on House Life has made switching houses less attractive. In the past, we have stood consistently against policies, such as randomization, that severely, restrict student choice with regard to living situations. Similarly, we are now concerned about the new house transfer policy, one which has gone a step further in undermining students' ability to have even a bare minimum of input regarding where they will live.
Until this year, students were able to apply directly to the houses into which they wished to switch. Under this new policy, applicants can only choose the specific house in which they will live only if they are willing to transfer alone or with one other person and if they are moving into a particular rooming group within another house. Students seeking singles and groups of students wishing to switch together can eliminate only two houses (plus their own) in which they do not wish to live, but are then randomly placed among the other nine houses. "Many students may have been scared off by the inability to choose any given house," conceded University Housing Officer Susan R. Kane.
Students should have at least some say in an issue that affects their daily lives to the extent that housing does. Total randomization, whether in initial house placement or in house transfer, denies students that input. The substantial number of students who have requested to transfer houses in past years makes it clear just how important housing is for a student's quality of life. The three categories employed by the new procedure, randomized singles, groups and sponsored singles or pairs, are not responsive to the multitude of circumstances under which a student may want to switch houses. Many students' needs have been, and will continue to be, neglected by the changes.
Finally, the tactics employed by the new system are questionable. The policy discourages students from transferring between river houses by preying on their fears of being placed in the Quad. For example, an athlete living in Mather might not apply to live in Kirkland for fear that he or she might be put in the Quad and will have a 25 minute walk to practice in the early morning.
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