Housing and Dining Programs may drop an experimental plan to give students who sign an 11 1/2 month lease priority for Nebraska Hall in next month’s housing lottery, the department’s executive director, Chris Moody, said Tuesday.
Students seeking an 11 1/2 month lease for AU’s block of apartments in the Berkshire apartments will still receive priority in the lottery. Additionally, Housing and Dining will still offer the 11 1/2 month leases for Nebraska, but with no priority in the lottery, Moody said.
“The goal of the 11 1/2 month lease is to see if we can rent more units at the Berks,” he said.
This potential change in plans comes after Housing and Dining announced major changes to on-campus housing that will begin with the fall 2010 semester. The spots in the Berks and Nebraska are among 400 that are reserved for upperclassmen, who will now have to participate in a lottery to receive space.
A final decision about the plan will be made by Feb. 1, according to Moody.
“We’re having conversations within our staff,” he said.
Student Government President Andy MacCracken said he is glad Moody is considering the change.
“I think in general, this 11 1/2 month lease — and having priority in the lottery — is just not favorable to students,” he said. “People who can afford to have that lease have a distinct advantage in the lottery.”
More students should have been consulted by Housing and Dining Programs to help decide where to move housing for certain student groups, MacCracken said Sunday.
Speaking at a joint meeting of the Undergraduate Senate’s Campus Life and Programming and Students Rights Committees, he said he did not expect all of the changes to the housing plan to happen at once.
“I’m surprised by the fact that they went ahead and made those decisions at the same time, in terms of changing where people could live, making Letts all freshman housing and moving Hughes to being all honors [by the fall of 2011],” he said. “… I think that could have had more of a campus dialogue involved.”
At the meeting, MacCracken offered more direct criticism of the plan than he had in the past.
Shortly after the new plan was announced to resident students via e-mail on Jan. 4, MacCracken responded to questions on the “Loyal Opposition to American University’s New Stance on Student Housing” Facebook group.
“I don’t defend or represent [Housing and Dining’s] decision, but only wish to help more people understand the effort that went behind [the recent changes],” he wrote. “I will do all I can to make this process as inclusive and helpful for any upperclassmen wishing to return to AU housing or who want to go find off-campus housing.”
But in an interview Tuesday, MacCracken said that his attitude about the plan really had not changed.
“Even in my discussions with Chris [Moody] and [Vice President of Campus Life] Dr. [Gail] Hanson when all this was going down, I raised concern about the issues of moving people around on campus,” he said.
Kent Hiebel, a member of the Student Honors Board and the SG’s director of communications, said that the board was creating a survey to distribute to the honors community about the changes. He said there were concerns that the honors community would become “too isolated.”
The goal of the meeting was to discuss ideas for legislation that Seth Rosenstein, class of 2012 senator and chair of the Campus Life and Programming Committee, hopes to bring to the full Senate within a few weeks.
But, Rosenstein said, Housing and Dining is going forward with the plan, and the SG is limited in scope with what they can do.
“I realize we can’t change things,” he said. “But perhaps we can propose things in addition to what’s already been planned such as incentives, or something along those lines, something that can make the transition easier for those students who are affected.”
Absent from the lightly attended meeting were Moody, who said he had plans for the holiday weekend, and Courtney Klamar, president of the Residence Hall Association.
The SG could help suggest ideas to Housing and Dining based on the discussions that took place at the meeting, MacCracken said.
“Just the very process of discussing it, I think we’re doing a good job of just trying to figure out things that might not have been approached by Housing and Dining,” he said.