By MAGGIE MCCOTTER
Imagine applying for a room with your group of friends. You get the room you wanted, and you’re excited to start your sophomore year of college with your best friend as your roommate- but then you get reassigned.
To me, and about 300 Mary Washington students’ surprise, this unfortunate situation turned into our reality. Upperclassmen from Alvey Hall and Arrington Hall found themselves out of a home this summer and had to experience a week of anxiety while the Office of Residence Life worked to find a solution to an unexpected problem.
As seen on campus over the last year, Willard Hall has been undergoing construction and is not set to open until fall 2019, so that already caused a shortage of upperclassmen living. Because Eagle Landing, which costs $4,368 per semester, and the UMW Apartments, which costs $4,160 per semester, are more expensive, many students choose to live dorm style to save some money and stay in an on-campus community. With two dorms getting closed up back-to-back, Residence Life had a lot of scrambling to do to make sure each student had a place to live, even if it was off campus.
I figured that once I was assigned my room, my living situation would be taken care of for the next year. Coming home from work one day to find an email saying that Alvey had been shut down due to mold problems was concerning and disheartening. The email stated, “[the Office of Residence Life] wants first and foremost to relieve any anxiety you may have about where you will live this upcoming year. Our team is working diligently to make new, comparable housing arrangements, and we will plan to send new assignments out to you next week. In our efforts, we are taking care to ensure that preferred roommate groups, identified during the application process and secured during room selection, are preserved.”
My roommate and I were less worried after hearing this, but we still had some anxiety about where we would eventually be placed and if it would be enough space for us to live in comfortably. Coincidentally, I had lived in Randolph last year, which is adjacent to the Link where we were reassigned, so I knew what to expect from our room and the general layout of the building. Residence Life did a good job of keeping my roommate and I together, along with keeping our current hall only upperclassmen.
Some students took the situation in stride. Sophomore and music major Core’al Coles was working at the Help Desk at UMW when she found out Alvey was being shut down. “I sort of knew about it already, so it wasn’t new,” Coles said. “As long as I can live on campus, I’m happy.” Coles had lived in the same freshman dorm last year, so she is comfortable with her current living situation.
My fellow hallmate and psychology major Caroline Thompson found out about this situation at home during the summer and reacted like many of those affected did. “I felt really mad and upset, like, where do I go now?” stated Thompson. However, Thompson did say she liked the Link better than where she lived the previous year. “Compared to Russell, it’s a lot nicer, and I don’t have a roommate.”
Majority of students shared a similar reaction as Thompson; Junior Rachel Beatty, a physics major, said, “I was sitting on the bed and felt the urge to look at my email, then I saw it.” She immediately thought, “this is going to shake things up,” but was happy that the dorm rates were not getting raised because this situation was out of our control. When Beatty was assigned to the Link, she was surprised and said, “I didn’t even know people could live in the Link.”
Fortunately, we received a nice room in a freshman dorm. However, some students were not as fortunate. The new rule that students cannot request a single room, enforced at the end of last year, already had the relationship between students and Residence Life on edge. All students know one perk of being an RA is receiving a single, but that was quickly changed for many RAs this upcoming year. Students and RAs are now paired together, creating a tense, and uncomfortable, living environment.
Hopefully, this pattern of losing upperclassmen dorms over the summer will cease and desist. While this experience has yet to inflict serious conflict in my life, I know many others have gone through many difficulties of adjusting to a surprise situation.