Editorial: College’s housing blunders signal gross irresponsibility

With news beginning to surface that the now infamous Metzger Apartments will not be finished for the upcoming 2005-06 school year and the possibility looming that one of them may have to be torn down due to extensive water damage – just another in a series of seemingly endless housing blunders – we are becoming less and less surprised at the lack of responsibility being displayed by the College in handling these grossly mismanaged problems.

Last fall, a great many upperclassmen felt supremely jilted when they arrived to sign up for housing and discovered that Townhouses West – historically junior and senior housing, along with Townhouses East and Townhouses South – had been reserved for rising sohpomores.

Why, they inquired, would ResLife impose such an egregious change of policy?

Retention, of course. What better way to win over those rising sophomores on the brink of transferring out than by bribing them with single rooms and air conditioning?

With the sophomores nestled sweetly in their Townhouse beds this year, the apartments, standing ghostlike and monolithic on the outskirts of campus, left untold numbers of juniors and seniors without a place to live.

Last year’s batch of affected students received compensation in the form of a meal plan credit which, in total, cost the College an estimated $640,000.

Sure, it’s nice that they get to eat and all, but how does that help the hours spent commuting to campus from the far corners of New Jersey? The hundreds of dollars in gas money that will inevitably be spent over the course of the year? The disrupted social lives resulting from the separation of friends and roommates – some on campus, some off campus.

Next year, though, it won’t just be a matter of padding meal plans. Freshman are guaranteed housing. Sophomores are guaranteed housing. Seniors who were supposed to live in the Metzger Apartments this year are guaranteed housing as part of their compensation package.

That leaves an entire class of juniors facing the very real possibility of homelssness.

Isn’t it ironic that those very same sophomores who enjoyed such residential bliss will now be the class most likely to end up commuters next fall?

And, while this would, under normal circumstances, seem too good an opportunity for pointing and laughing by the displaced seniors and juniors still smarting from last year’s housing debacle, the College’s gross irresponsibility in the handling of the Metzger Apartments project reduces smugness to sympathy.

Granted, responsibility for that damage lies squarely with the construction companies. But, where was the College when all this work was being done incorrectly? Doesn’t common sense dictate that you oversee the people you are paying thousands upon thousands of dollars?

The College, nonetheless, must bear the burden of responsibility for putting its students in this untenable position – it must help needy students find housing off-campus, perhaps even give students monetary compensation for such.

In addition these already aggregious problems is news of students in Norsworthy Hall whose roof, unbeknownst to them, collapsed over winter break, while the College sat on its laurels.

Instead of being informed of the situation and being moved to a room with a solid ceiling, the students returned to a gaping hole covered with a plastic sheet.

They stayed there for four days before ResLife finally took it upon themselves to respond to the situation.

It seems more and more that the students are really not the central concern of this fine institution.

Despite all their assurances to the contrary, the College has accomplished nothing short of a first class clusterfuck.