Photo by Dean Liao

Last Thursday, the Department of Housing announced new housing procedures for 1157 potential rising fifth- and sixth-year students on campus due to housing shortages. Instead of their usual priority housing, fifth- and sixth-years are being placed on a waiting list based on their credit hour count.

“If students wait long enough, it is very probable that students will move off of the waitlist and get on campus housing.”

“We are asking that rising fifth- and sixth-years wait until we go through the first part of room selection to determine where our numbers stand and if we will be able to get fifth- and sixth-years on campus,” said Dan Morrison, Director for Residence Life. “We are not telling [them] to go off campus—just to wait. If there is enough room for fifth- and sixth-years, then they will go back to their top priority position.”

The larger incoming freshman class is just one of the causes of this change.

“We have the largest freshman class ever living on campus, 2961 freshman which is a little over 350 more than we anticipated. Those students are guaranteed housing for their second year and normally we average about 74 percent of freshman live on campus their sophomore year. We have to protect for that number,” Morrison said.

Renovations on current housing options, a barrier not faced this year by housing, also affected this decision.

“Also, we are closing Towers Hall in May after graduation and it will be closed for a year. That takes 250 male freshman beds out of the system,” Morrison said. “That means we have to hold more beds in Woodruff, which takes them out of sophomore housing. So we have our biggest sophomore group ever and we’re going to have to actually take sophomore beds away to hold for freshman. It’s easy to understand how we are short about 300 beds.”

However, being on the waitlist may not be as large of a cause for concern.

“Almost instantly [after housing applications close], we will start to see cancellations. Right now, we are asking for a decision five months in advance—a lot can happen between now and then. At the end of the semester, students will find out about grades, co-ops and study abroad. We expect about 700-1000 cancellations. If students wait long enough, it is very probable that students will move off of the waitlist and get on campus housing,” Morrison said.

Although it could have been any group that could have been waitlisted to permit additional bed openings, Morrison listed to factors as to why fifth- and sixth-years were chosen.

“We feel these students have the maturity and years of experience to be successful living off campus.”

“One, we feel these students have the maturity and years of experience to be successful living off campus. They are more likely to have a car, friends who already live off of campus, or are more comfortable living in Atlanta,” Morrison said.

According to Housing standards, any student who matriculated to Tech before Summer 2010 is considered a rising fifth- or sixth-year. In Spring 2012, there were 1248 rising fifth- and sixth-years, but only 308 of those students applied for housing. The Department of Housing expects similar statistics for Fall 2013.

“We expect these numbers to hold true and for the ratio of fifth- and sixth-year students who stay with us for housing to be about the same, Morrison said. “We have no way of predicting except looking at past behavior.”

“When the statistics were laid out, Housing’s solution seemed to be the most appropriate, especially since it’s not kicking anyone off of campus. The old solution, a complete lottery system, seemed too extreme,” said Joey Slater, Residence Hall Association President.

Prior to 2007, when Tech bought the North Avenue apartments from Georgia State University, a housing lottery system was in effect.

“In a lottery, you either get a room or you don’t. If you were past spot 600-700 on the waitlist, you had to live off campus. The new system, however, is a sorting or waiting period,” Morrison said.