BY ZAMIRAH HUSSAIN – STAFF WRITER
According to Centre’s Residence Life page, 98% of students live on campus, which isn’t surprising. However, living in a single room here at Centre is kind of unusual (especially for underclassmen), even though it isn’t technically uncommon. Of the 34 buildings on campus available for residents, about 13 buildings have at least one single room that isn’t for an RA. It’s difficult to find on the website, but a single costs an additional $2500 a year; split by semester, that is $1,250 a semester. Why the extra cost?
It seems that if you can’t pay the additional fee, you can’t get a single room. This current system privileges students who can afford it. By forcing students to pay extra for a single room, we are effectively saying “if you can’t pay then you don’t deserve it.” This system also privileges students who have scholarships and are able to afford the extra fee because they have minimal other costs, though this is not to say every student with a scholarship can or cannot automatically afford a single room.
As much as we don’t like to talk about it, going to school costs money. We have to pay for tuition, housing, meal plans, green fees, parking permits, textbooks, lab gear, athletic gear, and the list goes on. Whether you have access to expendable money can impact your college experience. This may not be applicable to everyone but because money is important, an extra fee for a single room is also important.
Why are we equating a single room as an unnecessary luxury when this is, in fact, not true? Some people may argue that it is a luxury because you don’t have to share your space with someone else, and not all students can have that.
What if a student with social anxiety feels that they need a single room to cope effectively with the stress of college and constant social interaction but can’t afford the additional cost? Then their emotional well-being is impacted by their living environment and this, in turn, can impact their grades, relationships, and participation in college life. Roommate issues are not exactly uncommon, and if one person in the space is uncomfortable then the whole situation is skewed from the beginning.
A common argument for the additional costs is that by having a single room, the student is not sharing the space with another person. But how can that be relevant when there are rooms on campus where it is not physically possible to have more than one resident? There are rooms on the second floor of Breckrenridge, for example, in which there is no physical way that two people could fit. It might be comfortable for one but any smaller and it definitely would not be. Checking the floor dimensions available on Centre’s website shows that many of the single rooms that are not for RAs have a maximum occupancy listed as one. That wording implies that it would literally not be allowed for more than one person to live in these rooms, so why would they get charged if they aren’t preventing someone else from living there?
Another common argument for an extra fee is that it is similar to sharing a hotel room. If there are four people staying in a room then the price is split between them and it costs less than if one person stayed in the room alone. However, we don’t live in a hotel. Sometimes it can feel as such because we are privileged to have a truly superb and hardworking custodial staff who clean up after us, but it’s still not a hotel. This is a college and for the average student, they live here for eight months, minus breaks if you can leave campus (and not everyone can!) Secondly, this argument is rendered completely invalid by the fact that almost all the single rooms are built for one person. “Four people” can’t share a room and split the cost here because there is no room to be split.
It’s not as though suggesting single rooms be included in the normal housing lottery without additional costs is a radical idea. There are other universities and colleges that include their single rooms as part of their normal housing raffle. Why can’t we do the same? To appease those of us who prefer the current system, it is totally possible to keep the same single room sign up list and raffle based on grade. The only change would allow single rooms to become accessible for everyone to sign up, not just those of us who can afford to pay for one.