After Pomona College’s room draw last Friday, a number of students found themselves without a room and placed into deferred housing. However, unlike in previous years, the students who did not choose a room may be deferred off campus into the College Park Apartments, rather than into a room on campus.
An estimated 70 students walked away from room draw last weekend without a room, a number only slightly greater than previous years, according to Senior Associate Dean of Campus Life Frank Bedoya. The number of current available beds, however, is only 20—ten doubles on south campus. Since space is so limited, the school may be forced to find alternative housing for some of these 70 students.
Bedoya said many of the students who do not choose a room during room draw often do so because they are not planning to live on campus the following year, but have failed to notify the school beforehand.
“We have not made any contact with [the students in deferred housing] to find out why they didn’t draw,” Bedoya said. “Of that 70, 40 may be living off campus, but we just don’t know yet.”
In addition, Bedoya said the school holds 420 beds for the incoming freshman class, despite the fact that the projected number of students is only 405. Even if this number turns out to be correct, however, only about 15 spots will open up for non-freshman students. Bedoya concedes that being deferred to College Park is a real possibility for some current students.
One explanation for the limited number of beds, Housing Director Deanna Bos said, is that the number of returning students planning to live on campus next year is up by about 80 people from last year.
The school tried to compensate for this discrepancy by offering students the option to live in the College Park Apartments before room draw took place.
“We kept pushing College Park [before room draw] because if someone opted into it, then they chose to live there rather than being told they were going to live there,” Bedoya said.
However, only 44 students opted to apply for this housing option before room draw, with an additional four deciding to do so during room draw.
Many of the students who received deferred housing were upset that the school never informed them about the possibility of being deferred to College Park.
Annie Tran PO ’12, who had number 630 in this year’s room draw, said she had yet to be informed of this possibility.
“I’d be furiousl; [living there] should only be voluntary,” she said. “I am not willing to walk that far everyday and I don’t have a car or a bike. Nor do I enjoy biking.”
Donald Okpalugo PO ’13, who also did not choose a room during room draw, expressed similar discontent over the fact that he was not informed of the possibility of being deferred to College Park.
“I think it’s a little underhanded that they don’t at least make that explicit when they advertise room draw,” he said. “They sent us so many e-mails about room draw and in none of them do they say anything about that.”
Tran also said she did not feel a room in College Park satisfies Pomona’s guarantee to provide housing for all its students.
“When I chose Pomona, this wasn’t what ‘guaranteed housing’ meant,” she said. “They can’t just change their definitions. I think College Park takes away from the on-campus experience. You’re off campus and this school boasts about how the majority of its students live on campus.”
Tran also mentioned the possible danger of walking back to College Park at night.
“I have to walk down 6th street to get ‘home,’ and that street is where a lot of attacks happen,” she said.
Goodwin Burgess PO ’12, who was also placed into deferred housing, expressed a similar sentiment.
“When I entered as a freshman, the handbook said everyone is guaranteed on-campus housing all four years,” Burgess said. “I know because I was and am a tour guide and that’s something we specifically promote during our tours.”
Though Burgess said she was informed during room draw about the possibility of being deferred into College Park, she still felt this notice came too late. Burgess also thought the school could have been better prepared for this lack of housing.
“Why didn’t they anticipate this housing crunch better?” Burgess said. “If we were told from the beginning that we wouldn’t necessarily get housing, then I would understand, maybe. But this is cutting it close, and I think if people were deferred to College Park, there’s a chance they will be inconvenienced in unfair ways.”
Greg Wright PO ’12, who opted not to take a room during room draw to pursue living at College Park, said that, although he would have preferred on-campus housing, he has adjusted to the idea of living in the apartments.
“I’d rather not live off campus at a residential college, but it’s a really nice apartment complex,” Wright said. “That would be preferable to a room on south campus that a sophomore passed up.”
Wright was one of 36 upperclassmen who opted for deffered housing this year. One reason for this high number may have been the decision to hold out certain rooms for rising sophomores in Smiley and Blaisdell. Bedoya said although this might not be fair to rising juniors, it was a decision made by Pomona’s Residence Halls Committee (RHC), which consists solely of student representatives, aside from the committee’s advisor, Housing Director Deanna Bos. The committee is chaired by the North and South campus representatives and includes at least four members of Residence Halls Staff (RHS).
“[The Office of Campus Life] doesn’t create RHC,” Bedoya said. “It’s a student committee for students, talking about residential hall issues.”
Still, a number of rising juniors were upset that rising sophomores were given better options than them.
Beth Nitzan PO ’12, who opted to live on south campus next year, was one of many students to express this concern.
“It makes more sense to have the classes in as much the same area as possible,” Nitzan said. “Sophomores are traditionally on South campus in Oldenborg, being sponsors, etc. Now the juniors are spread out across North campus, Smiley and South campus.”
Tran echoed Nitzan’s complaint.
“I am really upset with how OCL has handled this year’s housing situation and that I was basically forced to defer, especially since I’m a rising junior,” Tran said. “Why didn’t sophomores have to deal with this instead?”
The final decision on where students who received deferred hosing will be placed will be made in August, according to Bos.