Perspective: Upperclassmen to Receive Traditional Freshman Dorms Spring 2021

Image Courtesy of Catholic University Housing Services

By Anna Harvey

Following a series of upperclassmen town halls over the last few weeks, students heard of Catholic University’s announcement to bring back upperclassmen to in-person classes and on-campus housing

With this influx of upperclassmen returning to campus among the expanded room for freshmen during the fall 2020 semester, the question arises of which dorms upperclassmen would be assigned. During the fall semester, the Student Government Association confirmed to freshmen on campus that they would not move from their current housing assignments over the winter break. This announcement would require that upperclassmen move into traditional freshman dorms. 

“We’re hoping to accommodate all the students that have requested housing for the spring semester,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Judi Biggs Garbuio during the junior town hall.

Regan, Ryan, Flather, Caldwell, Seton, and Gibbons Halls are among the dorms listed by the administration as potential upperclassmen housing. While several of these dorms are traditional upperclassmen dorms, due to the single-room requirement, the majority of returning upperclassmen would be assigned to a single room in one the original freshman dorms.

Some students lament these housing assignments, expressing that by living in these freshman dorms, they were not given an equal opportunity for apartment-style rooms that they originally signed up for during the previous academic year. 

“To be perfectly honest, the idea of living in a freshman dorm is not appealing whatsoever,” said sophomore finance major Maureen Pierce. “My roommate group and I were going to have a suite in Centennial Village before this all started. I understand [that] they can’t evict the freshmen, but after all I’ve been through, if the only option to live on campus is Ryan or Regan and not even be able to room with my best friend, then there is no chance I will be returning for in-person classes.”

During the town halls, President Garvey assured the student body that majors, such as STEM and architecture, whose future career success depends upon in-person classes, will have priority in signing up for Housing, leaving many students wondering on their likelihood of being chosen for on-campus housing.

“I feel grateful that they are working to get us housing, and I’ll take what I can get at this point, but I do feel slighted,” said sophomore psychology major Becky Roberts. “I had to go through so many hoops to get priority housing with my DSS accommodations and it’s very frustrating that I have to redo that whole process. It does give off the idea that CUA cares more about the students with more checks left to give them.”

Some seniors, however, have already arranged living accommodations for the next semester or have accepted the current situation with on-campus housing. 

“I’m definitely hoping to come back to D.C. for the spring semester, but I haven’t decided for sure whether I’ll live on- or off-campus yet,” said senior Italian studies major Rebecca Lemon. “…With regard to particular dorms, I’d prefer to be in a traditionally upperclass dorm like Gibbons or Seton, but being assigned to what used to be a freshman dorm wouldn’t be a problem. With all the adjustments that have had to be made because of the coronavirus, I’m just glad that we will most likely get the opportunity to return to campus!”

Senior philosophy major Gillian Richards indicated that while her primary plan of housing next semester would be to live at home, she is also looking at off-campus options.

“I’ll probably end up living off campus,” Richards said. “But I would also consider on campus housing if it’s an option.”

Another confusion within spring housing accommodations also comes from current students on academic leave for the fall semester. Housing Services prioritizes current students and does not allow students who are on academic leave for the semester to submit a survey form for Housing accommodations for the spring semester. These students, among others late to submit a survey form, now attempt to find off-campus housing in the case that the university re-opens in the spring.

Some students, reflecting on the recent announcements for spring freshman and upperclassmen housing, state that this limits their ability to make complete and informed decisions. These students state that these difficult decisions are based on the quality of on-campus housing and the availability of off-campus housing, which is likewise dependent on the degree of certainty for the university’s return to in-person classes. 

“My opinion on the potential return to campus is that CUA is sidelining the students’ best interests in favor of maintaining attendance numbers and tuition,” said sophomore biochemistry major Mollie Consuil. “It appears that CUA is making major decisions at the eleventh hour so that students do not have the time to make a fully informed choice and change their college plans if necessary. It also irritates me that freshmen are allowed to stay in upperclassmen dorms and have roommates. I have a freshmen classmate who lives in Opus with several other girls. The returning students probably will not have roommates and will be made to live in freshman dorms. It feels like undue preference is given to freshmen, especially since the upperclassmen spent an entire semester off campus.”

While sophomores, juniors, and seniors look with anticipation to the re-opening of the university, many must now begin sifting through uncertain living accommodations in order to determine what is the best course of action to take for the upcoming semester.

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