Letter from the Editor: The Housing Bubble

Matthew Korb '14, Editor in Chief

The housing selection process at Dickinson (And, if my suspicions are anything to go by, at most other places of higher learning) has its share of complainers. There are not enough good houses, there are too many ways to cheat the system, the process is too stressful, etc. etc. etc. While most of these gripes are just frustrated noise, there is some meat to a few of the complaints.

Like the recent change to the mixed class rule.

For the last two years, upperclassmen were penalized for living with students below their class year. While the rising sophomores and juniors were able to slide into an apartment or house, the older students of the group were forced to pick their housing from the last time slot of their selection day. The process, called ‘lifting up,’ allowed friends to live together while also rewarding the upperclassmen with better housing.

Last semester Student Senate lifted that penalty. Mixed groups of class years can now pick housing using the best time of the highest class year without any limits to number or location.

Now, this isn’t the first time that this penalty has been lifted. Half a decade ago, when housing selection was done physically in a small room and not online on the wide web, there was no penalty for lifting up students. Then, in 2010, the process was switched back by Student Senate President Lee Tankle ‘10. Why the switch back?

Because Dickinson likes money.

Dickinson promises four years of housing. What they don’t tell you is that they want you to remain on campus for those four years. The money that you spend on housing goes into funding vital projects (Rector was funded in part by this money way back when). By providing better times for upperclassmen, Dickinson ensures that students are more willing to live on campus and pay for college housing.

Removing the lift-up penalty gives good housing to students who are otherwise required to live on campus. Remove that, and you remove the biggest carrot that keeps Seniors on campus.

Of all the problems with the housing selection process, the changes to mixed class rule is the biggest. Beyond just robbing seniors of their apartments, removing the lift-up penalty robs the college of money for its maintenance projects.