The Village at 115 has long been marketed by Case Western Reserve University to incoming students as the light at the end of the tunnel, the reward for surviving two years in the outdated and unattractive housing reserved for underclassmen.
But as the Office of Housing and Residence Life recently stated in two open forums held for university residents, the Village will soon be rolling out the welcome mat for new guests: select second-year students.
According to housing administrators, the next academic year’s sophomores will have the options of Glaser, Kusch, Michaelson, Alumni, Howe, Staley, and Tippit on South Side. Then, on North Side, students will be welcome to choose among the top six floors of Clarke Tower, in addition to applying for admittance into House 1 of the Village.
In order to set foot into the Village, students must apply and be accepted into the newly created Explore, Engage, and Envision program. The university claims this program will help students “gain leadership skills and make the most of the CWRU experience,” which is code for: space is tight, the class is huge, and this program’s name makes it seem like we’re doing something productive.
The application to get into House 1 will entail a minimum GPA, no standing judicial problems, and an application with a short essay. Applicants will know whether they were accepted or denied before the lottery for other sophomore housing begins.
Current juniors and seniors who reside in the Village have expressed outrage and frustration over the soon-to-reality of second-year students occupying some of the best housing CWRU has to offer. One of the frequently mentioned reasons is that the Village has always been idolized as an end-goal, with flexible and independent housing options to meet the adult expectations of upper-class students. This is without mentioning that right now, the Village at 115 cannot hold every junior or senior student who wishes to live there.
As a consequence of second-year students inhabiting the Village, the exclusivity formerly associated with the complex is bound to dissipate as fast as warm air through its drafty windows. Thus, third- and fourth-year students may no longer see the value of paying extra money to live in housing no longer reserved for upperclassmen.
What I am more concerned about, however, is the division the university is creating within the sophomore class: the well-off, smart students who get to live in the Village and then everyone else, left to reside in rooms so small you can hold your arms out and touch both walls.
One of the benefits of CWRU that often makes us stand apart from other schools is our lack of an honors college. Instead, we are a university in which all of its students are admitted on an equal playing field. Simply put, we are an honors university in our own right.
I understand why administrators felt the need to make the process selective for second-year students wanting to reside in the Village, but the side effect of this choice is un-leveling the playing field. We can only hope that the Division of Student Affairs will take steps to make sure this segregation is only as thick as the Village walls.
More than anything else, this debacle exposes the need for new residence halls at the university. This is especially relevant considering CWRU’s administration wants to maintain a larger undergraduate population in the future, consisting of approximately 5,000 students.
Inviting select rising sophomores to live in the Village is indicative of a cart and horse issue; we brought too many students here before we had a place to put them. With any luck, the school will not make this mistake again. But if they do, we need not worry; Houses 2 through 7 are still ripe for the picking.
Feb. 18, 2013 Correction: The original posting of this article improperly spelled Kusch House. The Observer apologizes for our mistake.