In Spring 2017 Wellesley College will enact a new room selection process in an effort to be more equitable to students returning from studying abroad during the fall semester. This process was spearheaded by Meghan Todd, Assistant Director of Student Housing in Residential Life, and Shawn de Veau, Interim Director of Residential Life and Housing.
Previously, students living on-campus petitioned to make room changes throughout November and December, and students studying abroad would cement their housing in January. This caused a great deal of uncertainty about housing placements for students abroad and allotted students very little freedom in arranging their living situations upon returning to Wellesley.
Diana Castillo ‘17 studied abroad in Chile and intended to live at Casa Cervantes upon returning to Wellesley. She found that even outside of the main residential halls, housing difficulties arose.
“I had planned to move into Casa upon arriving back to Wellesley, but I was not expecting to live in a double,” Castillo stated. “There were three new residents that moved into Casa with me (something I was not aware of until about a week before move-in). Because a senior was one of the three new residents, she was given the only single available.”
Though Castillo’s problem did not arise directly as a result of the spring housing lottery, she encountered both a lack of communication while abroad and the inability of residential life to accommodate for her upon return.
“This specifically was not on account of Housing, but I was reluctant to have a roommate (for a variety of reasons) and the message was clear from Housing that rooms were very limited and it was going to be very unlikely that if placed in a double, we would be moved to a single. I was nervous because before I went abroad, Wellesley was a very anxiety-fueled place for me, and I was nervous that having a roommate would not be healthy for me (or her!),” Castillo stated.
More students at the College study abroad during the spring than the fall, and many of whom do so because of the spring housing process. In most cases, housing is not the sole factor in this decision, but it combines with other factors to influence study abroad decisions. “
While I was definitely aware of the possibility of getting placed with a random roommate(s) upon my return in the spring, there were other things that made me much prefer going abroad in the spring. It wouldn’t have been possible for me to be an FYM if I’d left in the fall, nor would I have been able to meet the first years joining my orgs,” commented Siena Harlin ‘18.
The fact that there are more students augments the housing problem, making accommodations both limited and with little room for choice.
“I even talked to Dean O’ Keefe to see if there were any options of moving, and he also told me that housing was especially tight and it was almost impossible to move to a single,” Castillo added.
Under the new process, both students who need housing changes and students who are abroad will register using the same process of submitting a form via MyWellesley anytime from Nov. 14 to Nov. 30. This process has been explained at House Council, sent to Class google groups, and communicated directly to students who are currently abroad. Students who choose to participate will each be given a housing lottery number based upon class seniority. On Nov. 30 there will be a room freeze, at which point all students currently on campus who want to move must have done so. At this point, students who have open spaces in their rooms will be able to view a list of the participants in the Spring Room process to request a roommate.