ResLife modifies probation in time for upcoming room draw

Sandro Lorzeno/The Miscellany News.

For Vassar students trying for the Terrace Apartments (TAs), Town Houses (THs) or South Commons (SoCos), housing draw is right around the corner. Last week, Director of Housing Rich Horowitz sent out the first email regarding housing for the 2023-2024 school year. While the majority of housing protocols will remain as they were for next year, one notable change includes a policy shift regarding the effects of a student-conduct probation on housing. 


In previous years, student conduct violations that resulted in probation automatically included a half-point deduction for housing purposes, and as a result, these students would receive the last housing selection slots among students in their class and dorm, according to Horowitz. This year, students who are on probation will not automatically receive point deductions, and thus, their probation will not necessarily have any housing-related impact. Instead, situations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 


Point deductions are on a half-point scale and seldom influence a senior’s ability to obtain an apartment space. According to Horowitz, receiving probation is rare: “Off the top of my head, about 90% of issues result in warnings—not probations.” Warnings do not affect students’ housing selection time and can be issued for a variety of reasons, including: drug or alcohol usage, disorderly conduct and violations of fire safety rules.


In a written correspondence, Horowitz said, “We wanted to ensure that the behavioral point deduction system was applied to probations when it made sense, as opposed to a blanket application to all probations.” The former policy on housing point deductions was initially put in place after students expressed that they felt the current system was unfair. They argued that students who did not comply with Vassar’s behavioral expectations should not receive better selection times than those who did. 


The question still remains: How will this impact housing selection? The point system works by giving a student participating in apartment, suite or room draw, four points, which may be lowered by a half-point if a student receives probation. According to Horowitz, “A group of all rising seniors applying for a five-person apartment would normally get 20 points, while one that included a rising senior on probation would receive 19.5 points. A 19.5 group would still easily get a five-person apartment but would be unlikely to get one of the new TAs or THs (they’d likely go to full-point groups).” Horowitz added, “A group of all rising seniors applying for a four-person apartment would normally get 16 points, while one that included this particular rising senior would receive 15.5 points. Such a group would not be likely to get a four-person TA, as these have most recently gone only to full-point groups. This same group, however, would likely be given the opportunity to add a fifth member and would be able to get a five-person apartment once they found out they didn’t get a four-person [apartment].” Seniors with point deductions may miss out on securing one of the newer apartment spaces, as those spaces tend to go to senior housing groups without any point deductions.


Seniors comprise the majority of students living in apartment spaces. According to the housing email sent by Horowitz on Jan. 31, there are 543 apartment spaces on campus, but with over 543 students in the rising senior class, not everyone would be able to live in an apartment space, should they want to. Katie Gebbia ’24 expressed her support in a written statement for the policy modification, saying, “I think this is better for forming housing groups, which is stressful enough as it is. I’d feel guilty joining a TA group if I had a lower housing selection slot due to probation and decreased our chance as a collective.” 


Hunter Grogan ’24 said in a written statement, “I know of upperclassmen who are forced to room with sophomores in the dorms because of their deductions, and needless to say, it seems a little unfair to the lowerclassmen to be forced to room with upperclassmen like that without knowing the context of their deductions.”


For rising juniors, the chances of procuring an apartment are significantly smaller than for seniors. Horowitz wrote in his housing email last week: “Last year, there were 37 groups of all rising seniors in the five-person apartments. On the other end, there were six groups of all rising juniors that received five-person apartments.” Makenna Monaghan ’25 said of the changes, “I don’t know if it will affect the outcome that much since the chances of getting a TA as a junior aren’t that good. Either way, we don’t have the best odds.” While the odds might not be in favor of rising juniors, it’s unclear what impact, if any, the policy changes will have on juniors’ chances to obtain apartment spaces. 


Horowitz confirmed that the new policy adjustment was finalized by the Committee on College Life last year and has been in effect since the start of the 2022-2023 school year. 

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