At the risk of inducing what the university might call ridiculous paranoia, the editorial board of The Miami Student urges the 140 current first-years not guaranteed a specific room by the housing lottery to think twice before signing a housing contract with the university. The university has all the best intentions and the best interests of students in mind, but the housing fiasco at the beginning of this year demonstrated they might not currently have the resources to make good on their promises.
Lucinda Coveney, director of housing contracts and meal plans, claims students will not be placed in the basements of residence halls fall 2010. However, the university is currently upgrading these overflow spaces.
This board believes this is an indication of something other than mere due diligence. With hopes for a larger incoming first-year class next fall, there is little reason to just take the university’s word that a room – an actual room – will be found for all students. Instead of forcing current first-years not guaranteed specific rooms to sign a contract requiring a great deal of the student and very little of the university, Miami University should create a more flexible, less binding waiting list for these students. Miami should also take short and long-term steps to make more housing available for the students who really want it.
An easy and obvious solution would be to let certain current sophomores and juniors out of university housing contracts if they no longer want them.
It would really be quite pitiful if the same problem, a highly predictable one, cheated students out of the housing they deserve two years in a row. If students do end up in barrack-style living next fall, the university should proactively offer them reduced rates without waiting for complaints or requests. After all, the university claims — and we are inclined to believe — they have students’ best interests in mind.
As for the long term, the university seems to have already taken some good steps. According to David Creamer, vice president for finance and business services, the university will begin to add new beds within 12 months. Perhaps it would have been a good idea to add beds before instituting the sophomore residency requirement, but what’s done is done.
Hopefully, the stars will align to provide a real room in university housing for everyone required to live on campus. But students should be able to rely on planning and demonstrably actionable promises, not stars.
To the hard-working, well-intentioned people in charge of housing: don’t count on everything working out magically.