Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been less of a destructive force on campus this year, the chaos it brought still ripples. One of its biggest effects is Vassar’s over-admitting students, which has resulted in drastic shortages of available housing.
This was a hot-button issue at the start of the year, as singles turned into doubles and doubles into triples, but while attention has gradually dissipated, conditions have continued to deteriorate. Rooms have been filled beyond capacity, and the population swell has forced many students into non-traditional housing arrangements.
According to our chief humor correspondent, reactions have ranged from neutral to negative. For some students, like Ana Quiroz ’23, the housing crisis is only a minor inconvenience.
“I haven’t been affected very much,” she explained from the doorway of her room, a repurposed custodial closet in Raymond House. “Sure, I can only use the dryer at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays because that’s when Michelle has to leave for class, and there have been a few problems with elevator access because Rashad goes to bed at 9 p.m. every night, but I think we’re handling it okay. I mean, this is all worth it if more people get to attend Vassar, even if that means putting five beds in the stairwell.”
Unfortunately, not everyone on campus shares Quiroz’s views. Hyeon-Soo Kim ’24, speaking to us from Stall B of a Jewett bathroom, expressed his growing discomfort.
“I can’t even pretend I’m happy with this,” Kim grumbled underneath the door. “I guess I could tolerate the limited space, but Javier in Stall C keeps practicing French horn until 1 a.m. I told him to use the band practice room in Skinner, but apparently the people living there voted 5-3 not to allow brass players in. Oh, and the girls in the shower suite keep smoking all the time, and there’s no way to get rid of the smell. I suppose it could be worse, though—they moved a second person into Stall A this weekend, and he and Michael don’t get along at all.”
As the housing situation has grown more fraught over the last few weeks, there has been a feverish search for a public scapegoat.. One of the most outspoken voices on this issue is Anita Reynolds ’24, who is currently subletting a library cubicle from her Japanese drill instructor.
“I don’t understand why we got rid of remote learning. You can’t possibly make the argument that I’m getting a lower quality education over Zoom than last month when I was stuck in a two-booth triple at the Deece. It’s also not like we’d have this proportion of students on campus in a normal year if study abroad was more of an option. If you’re going to factor housing into our tuition, you owe us livable conditions. I shouldn’t have to count on Harumi to give me a discount on a cubicle just so I can get enough space.”
Before Reynolds could continue, a fellow student aggressively shushed her, hissing, “If I wanted a bunch of random conversations, I’d go back to my vending machine at the College Center and study in there!”
However, some students blame increased admissions for the present situation, claiming that over-enrollment has placed the housing staff in an impossible position. Among these critics is Osman Gokce ’22, who is living with three other seniors in a Kousa dogwood tree next to Noyes Circle.
“It should have been obvious that we needed to curb enrollment,” Gokce fumed. “You have to factor in the people who deferred from last year, not to mention the ones using this as a safety school to wait out the pandemic before transferring, so if you maintain the number of students you’re admitting, you’ll clearly get more acceptances. This isn’t rocket science, guys. Come on.”
Gokce cut his rant short to address his treemate and her partner making out on a lower branch.
“Can’t you and Jordan go someplace else?”
“I told you, we can’t. They’re living under a bench next to Sunset Lake and the geese really don’t like strangers.”
Sadly, even these housing expansions haven’t remedied the dire shortage of living spaces, forcing students into some truly desperate decisions—hence a burgeoning black market in stolen room keys.
One would hope that the testimonials of these students would be enough to draw Vassar’s resources to the crisis. However, there has been no word from anyone about if or when these issues will be solved. Our Misc humor correspondent tried in vain to reach the Office of Residential Life, only to find the three desks inside the Office occupied by four first-years each, all of whom had truthfully been hosting a party with the other residents of Main’s first floor at the time.
With no clear answers, we will have to solve Vassar’s housing woes another day. For now, our exhausted correspondent is going to lie down in his ditch in the middle of the quad, pull the manhole cover over his head and try to get some sleep.