Housing havoc: Students voice frustrations with housing inconsistencies

Barbara Bell, Madison Weaver, Natalie Spears, Print Managing Editor, Staff Writer, Special Features Editor

University housing is one of the most stressful and controversial aspects of campus life. With the ever-changing options and random lottery numbers, students are often left confused and frustrated as to who they can live with and where. Housing options have drastically changed throughout the years in an effort to keep students living in communities of identical class years, instead of scattered between uphill, downhill, and downtown dormitories/apartments.

As an alternative to the lottery system, the University offers selective, pre-slated housing for students affiliated with different community organizations and common values. The majority of the student body still enters and draws through the lottery system, which heightens the anxiety of deciding where to live.

One of the pre-slated housing options is substance-free living, which gives upperclassmen a chance to reside in a community that focuses on wellness and healthy lifestyle choices. According to Stephen Apanel, Director of Housing Services, the substance-free program was originally called CHOICE (Choosing Healthy Options in Community Environments) and was only a housing option. Five years ago, the program changed into a student organization for those interested in living substance-free.

The substance-free students, who reside in the Corner House, are invited to attend the handful of events and activities planned by the student-run committee. Students are expected to follow the guidelines created by the living committee and can face repercussions for violating policies of both the residence and the University, and must abstain from the possession or use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Upperclass students can apply to affinity living, generally residing in different houses on campus. These communities share common interests, with options that include outdoor education, entrepreneurship and innovation, culinary skills, and acting, among others. These communities create an enjoyable living space and are a great opportunity to meet students with similar interests. Students of sophomore, junior, or senior status can live in affinity spaces.

Aside from affinity housing and the residential living arrangements that come with positions such as Residential Advisor and Junior Fellow, students enter the housing system through a randomized lottery.

Students who partake in the Room Draw process can “block book” nearby rooms for friends to create their own community within residence halls.

For rising sophomores, Bucknell West and most traditional residence halls are available, including Harris Hall, Kress Hall, Larison Hall, and Trax Hall. The Class of 2019’s living options also include Roberts Hall, which Housing Services plans to open for the 2016-2017 academic year. The building is currently under construction.

For rising juniors and seniors, students’ options have moved around, particularly with the opening of the senior-exclusive South Campus Apartments and the now exclusively first-year dormitory Vedder Hall. Vedder Hall, which during the 2014-2015 academic year housed upperclassmen, is now reserved for the incoming class of 2020. 

Options for the Class of 2018 and 2017 now include fraternity housing, sorority housing in Hunt Hall, Gateway suites, Bucknell West, and limited traditional housing.

Typically, the most-coveted options on campus are chosen in combination for their style of living (suite, double, single) and how recently updated their accommodations are. In contrast to the South Campus Apartments, which opened in 2015, the Gateways were completed in 1986. During room draw on April 5, members of the Class of 2017 blocked rooms in the Gateway suites before deciding to select suites in the South Campus Apartments.

Housing 2016-2017

Housing options for the 2015-2016 academic year for each class year were largely focused on class-clustered living arrangements, especially as the University made a push to bring students back on campus. Housing options for the 2016-2017 academic year for students are structured around clustering class years even more while encouraging seniors to remain on campus in apartment-style living.

The University is pushing for a sophomore quad, so to speak, in the Roberts-Trax-Kress area following extensive renovations to Roberts Hall, to be completed in August 2016. Rising seniors (Class of 2017) were not permitted to pull rising juniors (Class of 2018) into senior-designated South Campus Apartments, which caused adjustments for the rising juniors and their housing options. The Class of 2018 was largely limited to Greek affiliation housing, Bucknell West, and affinity housing.

**This map is an interpretation of information provided by the University’s Office of Housing Services and does not fully reflect the placement of all class years on campus.

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