Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

The Art of Compromise: Rising Juniors and Furman Housing

A perspective from a housing student employee on the recent tensions over housing between Housing and Residence Life and the student body, offering a explanation of the problems and thoughts on possible solutions.
Courtesy of Furman Athletics

I must be clear that my intention in this article is not to bash Housing or the rising junior class. I am both a rising junior and a member of housing staff as a FRAD, so I sympathize with both sides. I personally did not get into North Village, so I think I speak for those who are frustrated.

The harsh treatment of Mrs. Robbie Giles during the April 9th housing informational meeting was the result of increasing tension between the department of Housing and Residence Life and Furman students. Rising juniors showed up furious that 104 of them would not be getting living space in the North Village apartments. This anger was only fueled by the response from Housing that students are merely numbers and that filling all the residence halls was more important than providing the living situations rising juniors felt they had been promised and had been the norm in previous years.

Why are the rising juniors so angry? And why has Housing been unable to solve this problem?

Due to a change in Admissions policies, the current rising junior class is much larger than previous and subsequent classes. Housing was handed a giant group of students and told that all these students had to fit. Last year the solution was to put the then rising sophomore class into North Village apartments early and move seniors into the Vinings as overflow. This year, Housing realized that there just was not enough space for all the rising juniors in North Village.

Housing’s first proposed solution to this problem was to deny study abroad students the ability to reserve housing spots in North Village. Students who wished to travel abroad would automatically be placed in the residence halls. This prompted immediate action from the student body at large, and a petition movement reversed this move by Housing.

The failure of this policy left Housing trapped. They had to fill 99 percent of Furman’s beds. The Vinings were not a feasible financial option. Housing’s solution was to place 104 juniors in the residence halls. This number is in comparison to an average of about 30 rising juniors who did not get into North Village in previous years. What makes this worse is that tour group guides specifically explain to their groups that juniors and seniors live in North Village, and the only way that might not be the case was if you did not enter the housing lottery.

Housing was dealt a bad hand from the beginning, but the situation could have been handled better. The remaining 104 juniors who were not lucky enough to get into North Village were scattered throughout the dorms. These changes also complicate the process for rising sophmores, who find themselves competing with rising juniors for lottery placement in the dorms.

Many of the rising juniors accept the fact that they will not be in North Village. Many are angry, however, because they feel like they were misled as to the availability of housing, and are upset that Housing has refused to recognize the significance of the apartment experience at Furman or take direct responsibility for the results of changes in university policy.

Although these changes in university policy necessitate difficult realities, the policies could have been implemented in such a way that minimized tensions and informed students. The fact that a clear picture of the problem is only now becoming clear is itself quite problematic.

Rising juniors want solutions that address their concerns, but Housing wants solutions for next year and is hesitant to make compromises. If rising juniors were more understanding of Housing’s situation, then better, more realistic solutions could be proposed on their side, and if Housing was more sympathetic towards the rising juniors’ situation, perhaps they could find a way to address the needs of juniors while still attending to the larger picture.

For example, many juniors are worried that being placed in the dorms will prevent them from choosing to live near their friends, a luxury afforded to sophomore living in the dorms. Some mechanism for making sure displaced juniors have some say in where they live would be the first step in alleviating tensions.

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