College changes housing selection

Based on advice given by the Upperclass Residential Life Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee (URLAAC), the Office of Student

Thompson House is the new home for Quiet Housing. Photo credit Nathaniel Boley, Photo Editor.
Thompson House is the new home for Quiet Housing. Photo credit Nathaniel Boley, Photo Editor.

Life (OSL) has changed two main areas of student housing – the Neighborhood system and the Quiet Housing program.

In an effort to make it easier for students to live where and with whom they want, the committee unanimously voted to extend campus housing options to all residential buildings on campus, rather than just those that exist within a given student’s neighborhood. Students will participate in a general lottery where they can select housing from any residential building on campus, with priority given to upperclassmen. Doug Schiazza, Director of the Office of Student Life, said neighborhoods will still exist as a “programmatic and governance model.” Thus, students can still look to neighborhoods to provide funding and organization for various activities on and off campus.

Prior to this change, many students felt the neighborhood restrictions were unnecessary. While the neighborhood system was originally designed to create community beyond the entry system, Schiazza was receptive to the idea that it might not be the best system. “The reality is that a long-term residential connection of this kind faces a lot of inherent challenges at Williams,” Schiazza said. “For example, many students study away during their junior year, and several become Junior Advisors. During senior year, around 120 students live off-campus, and another 110 students live in co-ops.”

In addition to this change, Quiet Housing will move next year from West College to Thompson House. Schiazza noted there have long been questions as to whether “the location and size made sense for the program’s purpose.” URLAAC’s decision to move the program to Thompson largely came as a result of a survey that was conducted last spring, which contacted current residents and prospective applicants for Quiet Housing. About half of the students responded, and their responses indicated to URLAAC the program’s location in West was inappropriate. For instance, Schiazza stated that, “only 24 (just under 43 percent) of the responding students said they would have applied for Quiet Housing if it were in a less-central location. It was also noted that only 20 (just under 38 percent) ranked ‘a quiet atmosphere’ as their most important factor in applying for Quiet Housing.”

With these facts in mind, the committee considered a variety of options and campus including Agard and Tyler, and came to the conclusion Thompson had the best size, layout and location for the program. While Thompson has fewer beds than West, the selection process for Quiet Housing will change as well. According to Schiazza, “students who apply for the Quiet Housing lottery will now be required to share with the Housing Advisory Committee their rationale for requesting this type of housing.” Thus, the committee can prioritize the most severe situations.

These changes are to take place at the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic year, with students seeing the effects in this year’s housing lottery in the spring.