‘Paid to Stop Complaining’: Amid Housing Crisis, College’s Million Dollar Housing Lottery Sparks Frustration

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In order to free up beds this fall, Dartmouth is running a lottery for payments of $ 5,000 for up to 200 students who are willing to give up their housing on campus.

by Andrew Sasser | 06/20/21 10:59 p.m.

Fahey and McLane Halls on Tuck Drive were two of the most recent dorms to open – in 2006.

As the College prepares for a “fully residential” fall semester, student demand for fall housing on campus has exceeded capacity, according to a June 14 email sent to students by the dean. residential life partner Michael Wooten. He also wrote that in response to the housing availability issue, the College is offering a one-time lottery incentive to 200 students to withdraw their housing application for the fall in exchange for a payment of $ 5,000.

Wooten wrote that interest in living on campus for the fall has “jumped” from previous fall terms. In an emailed statement, he wrote that the number of students applying for on-campus housing in the fall exceeds the fall term averages before the pandemic of several hundred students. He added that demand is higher than normal because many study abroad and other off-campus programs are not Free this fall, as well as the fact that students returning from “pandemic-related sabbaticals” or who had limited access to campus during the pandemic are “eager to return” to campus.

In the emailed statement, Wooten wrote that the College was able to add 86 more beds by converting some double beds to triples and some lounges to dormitories, steps the College has taken in previous years, he noted. . He added that although the College had explored other options, such as hotels and modular housing, it was unable to use either of those options.

“There are not many hotels in our area and with the easing of COVID restrictions, many reservations have been booked until next year,” Wooten wrote. “The purchase, authorization and installation of modular housing is not possible within the required timeframe. “

Students who participate in the lottery but are not selected for the $ 5,000 payment do not lose their campus accommodation or their place on the waiting list, according to the email sent to the campus.

Students receiving financial aid should contact the financial aid office to determine “if and how” receiving the $ 5,000 would affect their aid program, Wooten wrote. He also noted that Dartmouth is required to report the payment to the Internal Revenue Service as taxable income.

Any students remaining on the waiting list after the lottery ends will be contacted with more information on what to expect, Wooten wrote. He added that historically more beds have opened over the summer as students’ plans have changed.

“We know there will be beds available, but we can’t know how many,” he wrote.

Reactions to the housing process in the fall were largely negative, reflecting frustration with accommodation Infrastructure in Dartmouth. Dawn Hensley, parent of a member of the Class of 2023, said she felt the College was “woefully ill-prepared” to deal with the housing situation in the fall, adding that the College had had “decades To create more on campus. accommodation possibilities.

“I don’t like the fact that they’re asking the students to fix the problem,” Hensley said. “By doing this lottery system, they are pitting students against each other for housing, and it’s painful.”

Nicolas Macri ’24 said he felt the excess demand for campus housing was a
“foreseeable” problem, because the College has not built brand new dorm since 2006, when Fahey-McLane Halls and the McLaughlin cluster were open.

Lack of sufficient housing at the College native following the decision to admit women from 1972, when the College implemented year-round education – now known as Plan D – so as not to have to decrease the number of men admitted . The D-Plan aimed to accommodate more students in the same number of dormitories.

Macri added that although the College has made proposals to create more housing, there has been little progress towards these plans. Construction of a dormitory complex on the site currently occupied by House Center A – commonly referred to as “The Onion” – and several tennis courts was put on hold by the pandemic, for example.

“I feel like this year’s lottery is meant to be a short-term fix for a long-term problem,” Macri said. “Rather than investigating hotels or other accommodation options, it feels like they’ve kicked the road.”

Housing construction is underway: a 309 apartment complex to house graduate students near Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is expected to be completed in 2022 and could help alleviate a housing shortage that extends throughout the Upper Valley.

While many students have received on-campus housing, others have been placed on a waiting list for the fall. Anders Knospe ’23 said he felt frustrated when he found out he hadn’t been granted accommodation for the fall and was even more confused when he heard about the lottery for payment of $ 5,000. He added that he is now looking for places to stay off campus near Hanover for the fall so he can still take classes. Knospe noted that he needs to be enrolled in the fall so he can graduate on time and said he doesn’t want to enroll for another term outside of summer.

“The $ 5,000 payment makes it look like you are being paid to stop complaining,” he said.

Knospe added that although he has “scoured” websites like Dartlist for an apartment, he has yet to find an off-campus apartment within walking distance of campus. He is now exploring housing options further away from campus, to and from which he may need to travel by moped or e-bike.

“I want to be on campus so badly, and it’s frustrating having to consider buying a moped to drive 25 minutes to campus,” Knospe said. “I’m also frustrated that this might not be the last term I need to deal with this because [the housing situation] is an issue that Dartmouth has long agreed with.

Students have until Monday 5:00 p.m. to decide whether they want to participate in the lottery and, if they are on the waiting list, whether they want to stay there.



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