EDITORIAL : Who needs housing? U do.

If you’ve read the school paper or have spoken with a resident of the dorms recently, you’ve surely heard of the difficulty in securing on-campus housing for the 2003-2004 academic year. It is true that in addition to four-hour lines, mass confusion, and minimal on-campus room availability, residents are forced to sign an addendum form that grants the Department of Residence Halls the right to relegate overbooked students to the “temporary” Holiday Inn overflow rooms across the street from campus. This “temporary” solution has been UM’s way out for the past three years. See back issues of The Miami Hurricane for previous student reaction and consternation.
One could speculate that the purpose of the intensive, exhaustive housing sign-up process was a Darwinian attempt to weed out the weak students. Only the strong overcame the four-hour wait to have their names checked off on a piece of scrap paper-the rest gave up and moved off campus.
The office of the Department of Residence Halls is located on the first floor of Eaton Residential College-with plenty of valuable on-campus square footage and a mission to provide the best service and quality to the students who pay their salaries. Would it be better for the Department of Residence Halls to relinquish their prime real estate to be converted into necessary dorm rooms, and move off campus themselves-to the Holiday Inn?
Well, maybe not the Holiday Inn (although they do sport a pool and conference facilities), but somewhere where land values are less astronomical and demand for student housing isn’t as high-some office building on San Amaro, perhaps. This way, more students could live closer to the center of campus-and isn’t that the objective of the Department?
True, students housed at the Holiday Inn often have few or little complaints about the experience-large pool, free maid service, cable TV, continental breakfast-and those students forced to live in the hotel next year won’t suffer any permanent damage from the encounter. When signing up for housing, students were also given the option of choosing the Holiday Inn over the dorms, in an attempt to alleviate the inevitable mass move. Thanks to the sacrifice of those brave souls, all freshmen and most international students, who may benefit more from the on-campus residential college experience (see the Department’s website-based propaganda, at www.miami.edu), will be able to live in traditional dorms.
With proposals for a University Village running up against community roadblocks, freshmen enrollment skyrocketing every fall, and campus property becoming increasingly more valuable, is it time the University of Miami considered major overhauls in its residence halls approach? Currently, the Department faithfully vows to provide any needy student with on-campus housing, admittedly a Herculean endeavor. Would students prefer a lottery-based housing system to extensive lines? At other universities, administrators work with nearby apartment complexes to establish off-campus housing with the security and atmosphere of an on-campus residential college.
Let’s dump the housing system altogether-think of how much money the University would save on UNICCO employees, security systems, resident assistants, resident coordinators, resident masters, and the like. And in the place of the old dorm buildings, could be constructed state-of-the-art classroom and research facilities that could launch the University of Miami into the top tier of academic institutions. Don’t like that idea? Then fight for a better solution to your housing problem.