c/o Sydney Kim, Staff Photographer

c/o Sydney Kim, Staff Photographer

The Office of Residential Life (ResLife) announced that general room selection (GRS) for next semester will be postponed until June in an email sent to students on Wednesday, April 21. ResLife anticipates more students will be on campus next semester and is using the time to determine next semester’s housing supply and demand.

GRS opened on Friday, April 9, with ranks originally scheduled to be released on Thursday, April 29, but browsing and the ability to bookmark and rank rooms have been paused through Wednesday, May 12. Rankings will not be lost, and students can continue to form groups during the hiatus. Housing selection is now June 8 for rising senior groups, June 11 for rising junior groups, and June 16 for rising sophomore groups. The deadline to submit housing preferences is 2 days before the selection date. Groups with members from different class years fall under the selection date of the lowest class year. The time between selection dates is intended to allow groups across time zones to merge and split.

“We recognize that it can be both confusing and frustrating when changes are being made to the housing stock,” read the email sent to students.

The postponement additionally means students have until June 1 to decide whether they will study abroad next semester and still participate in GRS if they choose not to. According to the Director of Residential Life Maureen Isleib, some students have already rescinded their applications to study abroad in the fall. The pause in GRS is also meant to help students focus on finals instead of housing.

“Students should be focusing on their academics without the added stresses of housing selection,” Isleib wrote in an email to The Argus.

The University normally enrolls over 800 new students in a non-pandemic year, and around 200 students study abroad during a typical fall semester, according to Isleib. However, the uncertainties of the pandemic have thrown these calculations into flux. ResLife is awaiting the final number of students studying abroad next semester and will not know how many new students to expect until after the May 1 deadline for students to accept their offers of admission. Isleib also mentioned that 56 students originally in the class of 2024 deferred their enrollment by a year and the number of students studying abroad next semester will be significantly lower than usual.

“This [postponement] is because we want to have more time to both determine our needs and our options,” Isleib wrote. “We want to make sure we have as many spaces as possible for students to explore and rank, as opposed to introducing new units after the process ends.”

ResLife is working with Physical Plant to identify additional spaces for students. ResLife is considering placing first years in triples as COVID-19 safety allows, potentially using double-occupancy rooms in Bennet as triples, which it has done before; releasing more students to off-campus housing; and repurposing the Inn at Middletown for student housing. ResLife is also looking to borrow any surplus graduate and faculty housing for students next semester.

In our conversations with Physical Plant, we are leaving no stone unturned,” Isleib wrote. “We need to consider the cost of making new spaces available and be confident that we have the time and abilities to have them ready by August. Construction is booming right now and there are both labor and supply shortages.”

GRS is the last stage of housing selection, although the other two stages—requests for off-campus housing and applications to special interest housing, namely program housing, community based living, and Copenhagens—might be revisited. ResLife released 22 students to off-campus housing after the request deadline of March 26, but more may be allowed to live off-campus if ResLife decides it needs the housing.

Likewise, students will get a second opportunity to apply to program houses with vacancies. Special interest housing applications were originally due Friday, April 9, and decisions were released on Friday, April 16. According to the email to students, ResLife will release additional information and instructions later.

Program housing applications have generally decreased over the past six years, according to Isleib. However, this year’s applications are consistent with the past two years, and some houses received a much larger number of applicants than they normally do, despite COVID-19 restrictions on physical visits to houses and events for interested students.

“I do think that COVID restrictions have made it challenging for students to meet people as they would in other years,” Isleib wrote. “Being in a program house with people who have a shared interest increases students’ opportunities to make friends and find their community.”

This is not the first time the pandemic has shifted ResLife’s plans. GRS is normally the only in-person stage of housing selection, but this is the second semester it has shifted to become an entirely virtual process. Students can still form groups or register as individuals before selecting housing. However, instead of visiting a physical room selection site at their assigned time to make final selections, students rank their housing choices in WesPortal.

“The revised process is actually less stressful,” Isleib wrote. “The only change is that students need to be more organized and finalize their choices earlier, they can’t wait to the last minute to make changes as they might have in the past.”

ResLife will be reviewing the GRS process for Spring 2021 and Spring 2020 and discussing housing options for next semester with the Undergraduate Residential Life Committee. In her email to The Argus, Isleib assured people to remain calm and flexible with the housing selection process. 

“Students should not get so caught up in the ‘real estate’ of their housing next year, the upcoming year will not be ‘ruined’ if they don’t get their top choice,” Isleib said. “They should be open to new experiences and remember that their year will be defined by the people they meet and the connections they make, not the physical location of where they live. Lastly, we have over one hundred student staff members and five professional area coordinators, all of whom are amazing and will be available to them if they need assistance navigating challenges in their living situation.”

More information on housing selection can be found on the ResLife website and in the housing selection section of WesPortal, including recordings of information sessions from ResLife Assistant Director Kieran Duffy.

Clarification: Since publication, Isleib clarified that program houses will not be accepting new applications and the rooms will instead be available to boarders during GRS

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the deadline to submit housing preferences is now June 8 for rising senior groups, June 11 for rising junior groups, and June 16 for rising sophomore groups. These dates are not deadlines, they are the dates on which room selection will occur. The deadline to submit ranks is 2 days before the group or individual’s respective selection date. 

Elias Mansell can be reached at emansell@wesleyan.edu

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