Opinion | University’s failure to plan for sufficient housing has negative consequences
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 22:09
At the beginning of this semester, Miami University’s on-campus housing was at 104 percent capacity, and as of Wednesday this has only dropped to 103 percent.
After the suspension of the Phi Kappa Tau and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternities, 34 fraternity members were moved into on-campus living situations.
Thirteen are now roommates of resident assistants (RAs) who had previously agreed to take roommates due to overcrowding.
These RAs, who already received a $500 book stipend, and $200 weekly cash stipend, now will receive another $200 per week for taking a new roommate.
While the Miami Student editorial board understands that the exact amount of students expected to attend each year cannot be predicted with pinpoint accuracy, we feel that this situation is unacceptable for both the displaced students and RAs affected.
Though these RAs agreed to house roommates at the beginning of the year, we feel that the situation hurts everyone involved, and lessens the Miami experience.
When RAs take on roommates, they lose the independence that comes with having a single room – one of the major perks of the job.
This independence is also necessary for RAs to facilitate good relationships with their residents by being able to conduct one-on-one sessions with them.
With a roommate, RAs cannot effectively use their room as an “office” or a safe haven for residents who need to talk.
We understand that the university is under immense pressure to find housing for all of its students, and that the situation was exacerbated by the suspension of two fraternities so early in the year.
However, it is unfortunate that these fraternity brothers were given priority over the first- years and transfer students to be moved on campus from other overflow housing solutions like the off-campus apartments in Miami Commons.
In general, we find the housing debacle to be a failure of the university to adequately communicate between the Office of Admissions, the Office of Residence Life, and Housing, Dining, Recreation and Business Services. Policies and emergency plans should be in place to avoid this kind of displacement of students.
This is not the first year Miami has experienced overcrowding, and we understand the desire of the university to accept more students, but this increase should not be at the expense of the students and their experience at Miami.
The larger issue here, we believe, is a lack of planning and an unwillingness of the offices involved to communicate effectively.
Miami’s policies are not fair to the majority of the students they affect, particularly in regard to the two-year on-campus requirement enforced for everyone except for members of fraternities and commuters. In the past year, three fraternities have been suspended.
Perhaps it is time for another group of second-year students to be granted the freedom and responsibilities that come with being exempted from the on-campus requirement.
Perhaps students who are in their third year by credit hour and have earned a certain GPA should be granted this exemption. This would reward students who are focusing on their studies.
We do find it ironic, however, that these fraternity brothers are now living not only in residence halls, but are sharing rooms with the disciplinary forces of these halls.
We understand that Miami wants and needs the profits generated by on-campus housing requirements. We understand that on-campus housing benefits us as students.
But when students are housed in barrack-style basements, off-campus apartments, or with resident assistants who then cannot adequately perform their duties, the connectedness and advantages of living on campus are ultimately stripped from the student body.
The loss of these advantages is the real tragedy in this situation, as it lessens the Miami experience, and doesn’t make students feel valued by their university’s administration.