On the shortage of co-op rooms: A call for more affordable living options

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Discussion and preparation surrounding senior year housing arrangements have always been intense. To secure off-campus housing, strategizing can begin for some students as early as their first year, especially for athletes who feel the pressure of having a team house. This pressure has forced some first-years to sign contracts for off-campus housing years in advance, sometimes with individuals they do not know well. Even if students wait until junior year to begin thinking about their options, they soon realize that there are not many opportunities for living arrangements similar to those found off campus, such as the houses on Hoxsey Street or the apartments on Spring Street. Juniors who want a slightly more independent living situation must then enter the co-op lottery in January. Co-op housing provides students with the chance of living in one of six small houses or one apartment complex, both owned by the school. With only fewer than 100 beds available for seniors in co-op living arrangements, four-fifths of the senior class must either live in the dorms or search for off-campus housing options. With so few co-op options and a high demand among seniors, the College should consider offering more co-op style housing.  

It might appear that one way to reduce the stress of entering the co-op lottery is to live off campus. While for some students this is a great option because it offers more control over where you will live and whom you will live with, the options on Hoxsey and Spring Streets are often more expensive than living on campus. This disparity alienates students who cannot afford to live off campus and other students who do not want to pay a lot for housing. This situation unfairly constrains these seniors each year, limiting their options to co-op housing or dorm living. For some, living off campus is not a good alternative to co-op housing because individuals are required to sign a lease years in advance. For students who have anxiety about making commitments to where and with whom they will house, this option is yet again not desirable.  

For those students who decide not to live off campus senior year, they have either the co-op lottery or the regular housing lottery as options. For juniors who want to live with a large group of their friends, the co-op lottery presents another issue as co-op housing is not conducive for a pick group that is larger than six people. The houses themselves are small, sometimes having only 10 beds, and if a large pick group does not have a pick number within the top 10, the chances of living in a desirable co-op for that group would be slim to none. Students in large groups each year are forced to split up, live in undesirable co-op housing or enter the regular housing lottery for a better chance of living with their friends in the dorms. Since most seniors enter the co-op housing, with around 40 pick groups entering for housing in the 2019-2020 academic year, it is clear that co-ops are in high demand. Unfortunately, only the very few and very lucky will end up living where they want and with whom they want for their senior years.  

While it is true that it is a luxury to live in co-op housing, the College has the means to provide more options for senior students. The College should consider doing so as co-op housing is high in demand and by providing more housing, seniors could have more affordable options to live with their friends.  

Caroline Conforti ’20 is a political science and economics major from Slingerlands, N.Y.