RLO vs. the Students

by Daniel Covington, Staff Writer

It is housing lottery season again, folks, and everything is going just as planned with our great new housing system — except it’s not. 

We are halfway through the process and people are doing the best they can with their time slots, but this big change comes with many problems. The housing system is no longer based solely on class rank and seniority. In previous years, students formed groups and received points for the number of seniors, juniors, and sophomores making up the group. An all-senior group would have a much higher chance of scoring their first choice of housing, typically Brock, in the lottery drawing. Students were satisfied with this system in the past because it ensured that they would eventually get to live in superior housing by their senior year; sure, they may have to overpay for Chevans as first-years, but it would be worth it for Brock or Pearl in the future. 

The new system, on the other hand, is based on how early a student submitted their housing application and on the seniority of individuals rather than the group — information that many students were not aware of until it was too late. It has resulted in underclassmen getting placed in upperclassmen housing, and vice versa. This change was spearheaded by the new Residence Life Director, Jessica Sweitzer. Problems and disgruntlement with the system are exacerbated by the fact that Centre requires all students to live on campus, issues with RA contracts and working conditions, and housing maintenance issues.  

The Cento has received requests to investigate. To gauge student feelings, we started with the greatest and totally most accurate student source of information: Yik Yak. We scrolled through hundreds of Yik Yak posts encompassing a laundry list of common complaints (one of them being problems with the laundry machines). Posts include calls to action, jokes and insults targeted at RLO leaders and underclassmen who received Brock placement, and even an anonymous petition to dismiss Student Life Vice President LoMonaco and Residence Life Director Sweitzer (which has 17 signatures at the writing of this article). The Cento conducted an Instagram poll and found that 84 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the housing system this year, while only 2 percent were satisfied. 

But interviewing the students directly tells me that dissatisfied isn’t anywhere near an accurate description for how angry some students really are with RLO. I went to RLO and talked to many students who were waiting in line to confront RLO staff. One student said “the new system is a mess and is negatively impacting the school’s reputation with parents, donors, alumni and the current students. I would strongly recommend the school ‘reboot’ the process and start over, utilizing the previous system that rewards seniority. Rising sophomores should not be making housing selections before the rising juniors and seniors, especially when Centre forces upper classmen to live in campus housing.” 

Another student said, “I have been waiting at RLO for a long time, and I know some people who came to RLO for help and there was no one here. The whole system is just really confusing. I was just talking to a rising senior who has a slot time for Friday the 19th and I am a rising junior and my slot time is today (Wednesday the 17th). The process as a whole has been extremely stressful and time-consuming, especially since we were not given a lot of instruction. There is no one I talked to that could say this went well.” 

A third student said, “It’s BS, I am a senior and I can’t even get first option, I have waited years for this. What happened with the lottery system last year? The lottery system worked perfectly! Everything good is gone. What is the use of a group of 4 as a senior?” At this point during the interview another student overheard and chimed in: “They changed it to first-come, first-serve based on who fills out the form. The system they had years before, they had to manually enter the room selection for every single student. They were like ‘that takes a really long time, and every other college uses a system like this,’ so they just switched. I know there were a lot of people who didn’t read or didn’t have time to read the emails or look at any of the information, so they got f***ed over by their time slot because they didn’t know.” 

These were just the interviews we had room to fit. I interviewed many others, and they shared the same feelings. Overall, the main complaints with RLO were confusion, lack of transparency, not answering student emails, and not being in the office. The complaints with the new “lottery” system: it is not an actual lottery, it is first-come first-serve, and it lacks senior seniority. 

These may not seem like the biggest problems in a student’s college career, but when students feel robbed of their needs and their time, burdened with unnecessary stress and strain, then it becomes a big deal. 

We feel for the students, but the story isn’t a one-sided one. We are working on the RLO side of the story. Stay tuned for the interview with RLO leadership… 

One thought on “RLO vs. the Students

  1. This is an unnecessary change that has caused rising seniors to not get preferred housing after waiting for the last 3 years to do that.

    I’m pretty sure that they are not going to try to fix this and they will most likely double down on keeping their crapshoot new system.

    All I ask is to let seniors choose their housing again by priority because we’ve waited like we were told to for past 3 years.

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