Student reaction to the proposed housing changes has been widespread, taking place both online and across campus.
Hours after Chris Moody, executive director of Housing and Dining Programs, sent an e-mail announcing the changes to the housing policy, Daniel Lincoln, a sophomore in the School of International Service, created the Facebook group “Loyal Opposition to American University’s New Stance on Student Housing.”
Lincoln said he is upset that he cannot return to the fifth floor of Hughes next year because of its conversion into an honors floor.
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“I understand that the university really does have to make some interim changes before they start going on with the future of the campus plan,” Lincoln said. “We just seem to be caught in the middle of the changes.”
Both Moody and Vice President of Campus Life Gail Hanson said they have been reading the Facebook group, and Hanson said that some good ideas have been floated there.
“There are all kind of voices in there, and they make some contribution to the dialogue,” she said.
As of Wednesday night, the group had 528 members.
Moody said the reaction so far from the student body has been both predictable and surprising.
“We knew it would be difficult news for students to receive,” he said. “What has been surprising, I think, is the number of parents who felt that [their students] had been guaranteed housing. We’ve heard from parents. There was no guarantee for four years of housing for any of the folks on campus.
Moody said he has been explaining the situation to people with concerns.
“I’m certainly empathetic with students or parents who had gotten a message at some point throughout their recruitment process, but I try to reinforce that there was no guarantee for any of the students who are affected by this housing change,” Moody said.
In the meantime, students can express their comments and concerns at several information sessions throughout the month of January. The first session, for rising juniors and seniors, was held Wednesday night in Hughes, where many students expressed negative feelings about the changes. Both Moody and Hanson attended Wednesday’s meeting.
Aviva Cohen, a sophomore in SIS, said she was upset with the plan to make Letts, Clark and Roper freshmen-only dorms.
“Some of my best friends on my floor last year were upperclassmen,” she said. “The only reason they’re segregating is to limit our options.”
Lisa Sprowls, also a sophomore in SIS, agreed.
“There’s nobody to show the ropes of the school,” she said.
—ETHAN KLAPPER and TAMAR HALLERMAN