For the second year in a row, Drexel is experiencing severe issues regarding the overcrowding of campus housing. Students planning to live in upperclassman dorms, such as North and Race, recently received communication from the University detailing alternate housing options; simultaneously, incoming freshmen are being notified in tiers of their housing assignment for the 2011-12 school year — and many of those freshmen will be subjected to less-than-comfortable arrangements without their approval.
In years past, Drexel has celebrated its policy against forced triples in freshman dormitories, but beginning last year, this became a harsh reality to adequately handle the unexpected spike in admissions. While University Housing utilized alternatives like forced triples and common rooms transformed into bedrooms as a temporary solution to the problem last year, these are becoming permanent options for the coming year — and these makeshift rooms will now extend to upperclassman dorms as well. In addition, the University has been forced to devise a temporary plan to allow for the many still-unassigned on-campus students: placing students in rooms with resident assistants. RAs are up in arms about this development, as it considerably undermines their authority — and we have to imagine that the students placed with RAs won’t take kindly to this plan, either.
The underlying message regarding the housing shortage is a positive one: Drexel has become a popular choice for high school students, so much so that the University can no longer accommodate the influx of students who are granted admission. But in order to maintain the interest and respect of incoming students, we cannot continue to provide sub-par living arrangements that will significantly decrease their comfort and quality of living. Three strangers will surely not enjoy being crammed into a room designed for two for an entire year, especially when Drexel’s cost of attendance is so astronomically high. And a freshman being forced to room with an RA? Not only will that blur the lines between RA and friend, therefore robbing a freshman of a mentor, it will also negatively impact the social experience of forging common ground between roommates as they navigate the new environment together.
So what is the solution to this problem? Quite simply, Drexel needs to lower its admission rate for the next few years. By raising our admission standards and accepting fewer students per year, Drexel will gain respect and esteem and therefore attract a higher level of students. This overflow of incoming freshmen proves that Drexel is already becoming known as a “good” school; we can continue this trend by becoming more selective with our admissions criteria. This exclusivity will bring out the very best in our applicants and alleviate the housing dilemma, which in turn will make the University more attractive to potential students.