Construction, housing, and the sophomore displacement

Cartoon by Gordon Johnson

AUSTIN KLAWITTER | OPINION COLUMNIST | aklawitt@butler.edu

Butler University is approaching the end of the school year, and there are many things happening with which students are more than familiar. There is the warmer weather, the seniors preparing for graduation, the approach of finals and the stress that is associated with the end of the school year.

Oh yeah, and there is also the constant sound of the campus’s various construction sites, the spontaneous giant holes that seem to be multiplying throughout the grounds and a particular housing difficulty regarding next year’s sophomore class.

The construction is all a part of the Butler 2020 Campus Improvement Project, the plans of which have been shared publicly. Most of the current construction, though, revolves around the unnamed new residence hall that will take the place of Schwitzer, as well as, the development of telecommunication and electrical wiring.

Students will notice obvious obstructions near Jordan Hall, and the frequent detour on the way to I-Lot, or perhaps the small bridges students must cross near Fairview in order to pass over construction materials.

While the construction itself is only a minor hindrance to the student’s day-to-day, the absence of Schwitzer Hall and current construction of the new unnamed residence hall has created a silent panic on campus for those planning to live on campus next year.

Most are familiar with the housing application process, and those who will be incoming sophomores have the usual options of Fairview, University Terrace, Butler Terrace,  Apartment Village, the Christian Theological Seminary Apartments, or Greek housing. Upperclassmen have the option of all the above apartments, Greek housing, and off-campus living (which has been permitted for some Juniors).

However, quite a few sophomores were notified last week that it will be very unlikely they will have the ability to live in Fairview next year, the main sophomore housing option for non-Greek affiliated students.. There are pods of six and eight in Fairview, and the housing offices received enough applications with full groups, that those not in a full group will not be able to live in Fairview.

Rather, these sophomores have to go through the application process for the on-campus apartments.

Greek students are not at all exempt from the housing issues that are arising around campus. Increasing class sizes cause for increasing pledge class sizes, and decreasing housing causes for Greek housing to fill up very quickly. First-year arts administration major Natalie Orr will be unable to live in the Alpha Phi house next year.

As a sophomore, the only other residence hall option is Fairview. Natalie doesn’t know if she will be able to afford Fairview, and therefore has to go through the process of either living in University Terrace or the Christian Theological Seminary Apartments.

Natalie also spoke on how your on-campus living situation can affect your social life and academics, ultimately altering your Butler experience, and possible making some experience less than in years past or those who will experience Butler in the future.

“I do think I am getting less out of Butler, especially if I end up having to go to UT or CTS. It is going to be a much longer walk and will seclude me from campus life. Since I cannot afford Fairview, I won’t be with my friends or even many people my age. I also won’t be with my sorority, which gives me a different, lesser, experience,” Orr said.

That all seems fairly straightforward and fair, and it really is. The fact that the sophomore housing option filled up with sophomores to capacity almost immediately is great, and the fact that juniors are now being permitted to live off-campus is equally great.

On the other side though, sophomores who were looking forward to continuing their experience of on-campus living without the need for commuting are a little out of luck. University Terrace, Butler Terrace, and the Christian Theological Seminary Apartments are much further than those living in Ross, ResCo, or Fairview. Additionally, the sophomores who now have to apply for apartments are at the bottom of the priority list.

Apartment Village and Butler Terrace seem like options that will require a lot of luck to get into as a sophomore. This leaves sophomores with the Christian Theological Seminary Apartments, which boasts a strange location, and University Terrace, which basically boasts the same number of maintenance issues and qualities of Ross Hall.

The sophomores that were told they could not fit into Fairview were given a total of five days before their new apartment applications had to be turned in. This short time span, which includes the weekend, creates a difficulty for communication.

I do not mean to denounce or undermine the extremely difficult work that the housing office goes through. They are really some of the unsung heroes of Butler given the number of students they have to place each year.

Additionally, the housing office was very proficient in sending mass information to students affected by the process. Personal queries, though, are difficult to work with given in-group deliberations with planned roommates and the natural inefficiency of an email.

Butler is hoping to become a larger, more recognized and overall more developed university. As construction and plans continue, it is likely that students will occasionally get caught up in the process.

Next year’s sophomores have been particularly affected due to the distinct lack of options regarding sophomore Residence Halls. Though students are guaranteed on-campus housing of some form, it seems this particular transition has had a unique and adverse effect for the housing of the Class of 2020.

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