Sophomore housing selection postponed “until further notice”

Residential Life is looking into campus housing for sophomores unable to live in Woods Creek, especially theme houses with vacancies


Kevin Remington kremington@wlu

Students chalk the sidewalk at the Third-Year Village on March 14, 2020. Photo by Emma Coleman.

Maya Lora

With three weeks left in the school year, some rising sophomores still aren’t sure where they’ll live if they return to campus in the fall.

On Thursday, April 16, Director of Residential Life Chris Reid announced that rising sophomore selection would be postponed until “later this month” in an email obtained by the Ring-tum Phi. And then on Monday, April 27, in another email, he announced that selection for the class of 2023 was still postponed “until further notice.”

In an email to the Phi on Thursday, May 7, Reid said sophomore housing selection would take place in late May.

Sophomores are able to live in sorority or fraternity houses, theme houses, or the Woods Creek apartments. However, complications over the two nights of rising junior housing selection, on April 14 and 15, reduced the number of available spots in the Creek, forcing the postponement of rising sophomore housing selection for those apartments.

Although there are still available units in the Creek, there was an overflow of rising juniors into those units who were unable to secure a spot in the Third Year Village. As a result, the university is searching for space elsewhere on campus, especially within theme houses, to accomodate rising sophomores not living in Greek housing.

“Half of those participating in sophomore selection will live in Woods Creek and half will live in theme housing,” Reid said in his email to the Phi.

Rising Senior Community Assistant Danika Brockman, ‘21, said that facilities and Residential Life are searching for all available space in residential buildings to see “where people can sleep,” which includes seeing if current singles in some locations can be turned into doubles.

“[We’re] trying to find enough beds for everyone – trying to find out where those will be, what that looks like, who’s going where,” Brockman said. “It does seem like theme houses are going to be a lot more full this year compared to last year.”

Brockman added that the university would attempt to make sure roommate groups stayed together, even in theme houses.

Reid said in his April 16 email to the class of 2023 that “all Village apartments and townhouses are at capacity and many rising juniors selected a Woods Creek apartment because there were not enough beds in the Village to accommodate every rising junior.”

He added that although this is the case “every year,” 87 additional rising juniors participated in this year’s housing selection compared to 2019. Reid named two factors for the rise: fewer students going abroad for fall term and fewer students applying to theme houses.

Additionally, according to fall 2019’s class ranks, there are 474 students in the class of 2022, as compared to 449 and 450 in the classes of 2021 and 2020, respectively.

Reid told the Phi there are 338 beds in the Village and 375 juniors registered for housing selection. While Reid did not comment specifically on any possible expansion of Village housing, he told the Phi the university hopes to “eventually build some new housing for upper-division students.”

Emma Callaghan, Grace Mamon, Lexie Paxton, and Maria Shaw, all rising juniors, expected to secure a spot in third year housing on night two of housing selection, dedicated to third year apartments. They had the third time slot at 8:20 p.m.

“We were anticipating if not getting like our top choice, at least getting something in third year. So we were doing that, I made this whole little chart to cross off as time slots went by so we could try and choose one that was one of the good ones,” Callaghan said. “And then by halfway through the second time slot, everything was gone.”

Unable to secure an apartment, the roommate group turned to trying to secure a townhouse, as not all had been filled the night before. They said they managed to find two male classmates to live with them and secured a townhouse by contacting housing, but the two new roommates pulled out at the last minute to live in a different apartment together around 9:20 p.m.

Callaghan, Paxton, and Shaw said that Lora Volant, the senior residential life office coordinator, told them they could keep the townhouse while they looked for two more roommates. The three juniors said they found roommates around 10:05 p.m., while on the phone with Reid, but were informed they were being removed from the townhouse at 10:15 p.m. because it was being given to a different group. The girls said at the time, they were still officially in the townhouse on erezlife, the system the school uses for housing selection and placement.

Volant directed requests for comment to Reid.

“Our hope is that everyone has a good selection experience, but we know not everyone can secure their top choice based on availability,” Reid said when asked about the incident via email.

Unable to live in third year, the juniors had to select a unit in Woods Creek, where they had lived together until the school transitioned to online learning in March.

Callaghan, Paxton, and Shaw said they’d had a rough time at school sophomore year because no longer living in the dorms meant they were separated from their friends. They said they had been excited to live with their friends again in the Village.

“It was hard last semester living in the Creek when everyone lived in Greek housing. We were kind of isolated in that respect,” Paxton said. “So I was really looking forward to third year, being able to see people on the balconies, on the porch and all. And now we don’t get that opportunity.”

Leslie Le, ‘23, knows how they feel. Le planned to live in Woods Creek with her three roommates, but with the overflow of juniors into the Creek, she’s not sure she’ll be able to, even with an 8:10 p.m. time slot.

Le said she wasn’t able to find a theme house she was interested in living in and the thought of being placed in a theme house instead of the Creek makes her “anxious and kind of angry.” She said she thought the school should have enough housing in the Village to accommodate all juniors.

“I get very uncomfortable with people I don’t know,” Le said. “With the theme houses, I might be placed into a theme house where I don’t know who I’m going to be placed with.”

In his April 16 email, Reid said the university would “assess the housing landscape for next year, which includes consolidating juniors in Woods Creek to free up as many units as possible for sophomores.”

Reid told the Phi that consolidation, which would have involved combining smaller groups of roommates to completely fill junior apartments so more vacant apartments would be available to sophomores, was no longer necessary.

“However, there are some vacant beds in rising junior units that will need to be filled,” Reid said. “We plan to work directly with students that have a vacancy to determine how those beds will be filled. This only impacts a small number of people in Woods Creek and we’ll be in touch with them soon.”

Residents of the Sankofa theme house have already been informed that their house is a “prime” location for the addition of sophomores unable to live in Woods Creek. According to the school’s website, the Sankofa house “is committed to providing a residential and social space for solidarity amongst students of the African diaspora and their allies, community activism for voices that have traditionally been silenced and lacked representation, and consistently seeking revelations of truth in our communities and histories.”

The house fits 27 residents. Eight residents, all women, are currently slated to live there, not including the community assistant Tahri Phillips, ‘23.

In a May 1 email obtained by the Phi, Reid informed those residents that since many rising sophomores “will need to be assigned to theme housing,” the university had identified Sankofa as a house with many vacancies that would be considered “prime housing” for rising sophomores.

The nine current Sankofa residents, including Phillips, held a meeting on Saturday, May 2 via Zoom to discuss the situation. Amber Morrison, ‘23, expressed concern that the current residents would be the “minority in our own house.”

“The programming and all that that happens will still be with the message of the house,” Phillips said. “The house is still Sankofa, you know. The message of the house isn’t changing just because there are different people in it.”

But some residents were still concerned about shared spaces.

“We’re not worried about someone bringing a Confederate flag,” Morrison said. “What we’re worried about is getting asked about our hair when we’re coming out of the shower. We’re worried about always having to answer questions. We’re worried about people saying dumb things and not even knowing. Because Sankofa is a safe space. That’s supposed to be the one spot where that doesn’t happen.”

In his May 1 email, Reid informed the residents that the university wished to consolidate them onto the second floor of Sankofa to create an all-female floor with the house’s original residents. While all of the residents originally had single rooms or were living alone in doubles, some would now have to take roommates, as the second floor only has three singles.

Reid said the residents could decide amongst themselves how they would best like the arrangement to work, but they would all need to consolidate onto one floor.

The residents have until May 8 to make a decision on housing arrangements. During the meeting, they came up with two plans that they will submit to Reid and Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Student Engagement Tamara Futrell.

“We want everyone to be as comfortable as can be for a situation that no one asked for. Including Chris Reid,” Phillips said.

Kam Godsey, ‘23, suggested that the house set “negotiables and non-negotiables” at the beginning of the year with the new residents to ensure the best space for everyone and make sure the new residents are “conducive with the spirit of the house.”

“It’s their house, but it’s our space,” Godsey said.

While Brockman is unaware of the timeline for sophomore housing selection going forward, she’s sure everything will eventually work out.

“Everybody is going to have housing,” Brockman said. “We will find somewhere for you to sleep. Pinkie promise.”

Reporting contributed by Hannah Denham.

This report has been updated with new information.