University rethinks housing changes

Strong reactions to the recently announced housing allocation changes have caused the university to significantly modify their plans, said the vice president for Student Affairs.

“It appears as though we have, unfortunately, moved too quickly,” Patricia A. Whitely said Wednesday afternoon at her monthly roundtable meeting with student leaders. “People [were] very anxious and not sure how this [was] going to work for them.”

Whitely said the university “decided to back off” of most of the plan for now due to student concerns, but emphasized there will still be some changes for next year, and more in the future.

“We’re simply slowing down the change,” she said. “We can’t stand still, but we have to take a step back.”

Everything will remain the same as in previous years with a few exceptions involving the towers and the apartment area:

With these revisions, housing sign-up priorities will continue to be determined by contract number. Students who have lived on campus the longest will still have the highest priority. There will be no lottery this year.

Whitely said a decision was made Monday to allow students living in singles to keep their rooms. After today’s announcement, students will be able to retain their current dorms no matter where they live on campus.

The new rule that only juniors and seniors will be allowed to live in the apartment area still stands.

Hecht and Stanford will, for the most part, still be open to all students.

“We want to inconvenience as few students as possible, and get feedback from as many as possible,” Whitely said.

Whitely describes the new plan for the towers as “modified freshman housing,” which designates a few floors in the towers as freshman-only on a pilot basis. The number of floors and their location will be announced in late February, according to a statement released by Whitely.

Student reactions

Whitely first approached SG President Danny Carvajal and Senate Speaker Brandon Gross late last semester with an initial proposal for changes. Gross told The Hurricane that SG did not vote on the initial changes but merely gave feedback. The new plans were discussed in Senate today.

Students, who learned about the now-defunct changes from a mass e-mail and their resident assistants, reacted quickly to those changes.

Two groups that appeared on Facebook also helped Whitely gauge the resistance, as she cited at the roundtable meeting. “Change UM Housing Process back to Priority” currently has 366 members and “Don’t let me be homeless” currently has 90.

“I was really, really angry and thought it was completely unfair,” said Tiffany Chomko, a junior and creator of the “Changing UM Housing” group, regarding last week’s decision. Chomko lives in a single and would have most likely lost her room under the first round of changes.

She and junior Billy King, founder of the other group, met Thursday with Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Gilbert Arias and Carvajal to express their concerns.

Arias visited a meeting the two students organized Monday at Eaton, where he announced that upperclassmen would be allowed to retain their singles and singles would only be available for upperclassmen.

Chomko said she was pleased. By Wednesday, the other revisions to the plan were announced.

“Everyone should feel good their concerns were listened to,” Whitely said.

Greg Linch may be contacted at