Equity in housing





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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Equity in housing
By Mimk6 (Mimk6) on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 04:51 pm: Edit

My son attends a school where there are two sorts of housing -- high rise housing -- all pretty similar with bathrooms down the hall and smaller buildings with rooms with bathrooms -- nicer. If you want the nicer accomodations you pay more. Thus it seems pretty equitable. My D attends a school where everyone pays the same and there is a huge disparity in housing -- some have common rooms and rooms twice the size of others, some have much better food than others, etc. It does bother me to pay the same as someone whose kid is getting much better accomodations, etc. It seems to be pretty much the way it is at the top private schools. I prefer a more equitable system. I'm wondering what others think.

By Clipper (Clipper) on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 05:01 pm: Edit

I agree with you 100%, I think we should pay for what we get.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 05:16 pm: Edit

My daughters college I beleive everything is same price, whether a single or a triple, but each has advantages others don't so at her school it all works out, it hasn't been a source of complaint anyway.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 06:00 pm: Edit

I can't say I like the idea...So, basically, if you can't afford it, you get stuck in poor housing? Isn't that a sort of segregational system disfavorable to the major plus of dorm housing---getting into close contact with people from a variety of backgrounds? I freely admit that there is frequently very disparate housing at many campuses (at Yale, there is huge disparity between, say, Lanman-Wright, which has rooms that are 7X12 and Welch, in which there are two-floor suites). However, this luck of the draw type of selection evens itself out over the duration. If you get stuck in poor housing freshman year, chances are your sophomore digs will be much better. I think that is quite an equitable system.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 06:14 pm: Edit

One school S accepted at also differentiated housing with cost, but span less than $2000. A triple vs single. I didn't think this was bad system. My S wanted a double in an a/c building, but for some that truly want a single, it can be worth the extra $

By Clipper (Clipper) on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 07:33 pm: Edit

At my daughter's college the dorms are assigned randomly. She ended up in the dorm clear across campus away from the other dorms (her dorm is the only one in the area). Her room is smaller than the other dorm rooms too. The dorm has a cafeteria that is open for lunch and dinner not b-fast so if the kids assigned in that dorm want to eat with the other students on campus (any meal) they have to walk clear across campus. It just seems like these kids are isolated from the rest. Many kids were upset that they were assigned that dorm and wondered why they didn't get a discount on their room rate. Oh well.
Candi I see what you are saying about the segregation issue but in this case it was a random selection.

By Mimk6 (Mimk6) on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 10:44 pm: Edit

"I freely admit that there is frequently very disparate housing at many campuses (at Yale, there is huge disparity between, say, Lanman-Wright, which has rooms that are 7X12 and Welch, in which there are two-floor suites). However, this luck of the draw type of selection evens itself out over the duration. If you get stuck in poor housing freshman year, chances are your sophomore digs will be much better. I think that is quite an equitable system. "

Actually Yale is not equitable. Some buildings have been renovated some have not. One is famous for very poor sophormore housing and it doesn't even out later. Some have better housing all the way through. Maybe the housing itself should be more equitable to start with when it's built. And maybe perks should be built in for students who have lesser amenities.

By Mimk6 (Mimk6) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 12:42 am: Edit

By the way, if we're really going to do away with segregation, maybe legacy kids should not have preference in housing. It's no surprise they end up with the better housing -- but the non-legacy families are paying the same amount.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 01:08 am: Edit

Is "equity" the word we should be using? I mean each and every person bought a product. They knew in advance (if they cared to know) what that product was, and how it would be delivered (and if it was randomly delivered to different customers), what it would cost, and what options came with it. And had the option to purchase something else. It's like going to a car lot, where all the cars are the same price which each customer is willing to pay because of the fine motor underneath the hood and its scarcity value (there aren't many), and agreeing to accept the next model of whatever size happens to become available. People will end up with different size cars, but if they cared about the size of the car, they wouldn't have come to this car lot to begin with. It's not an equity issue. Everyone got treated the same, that is, as regards to car size, randomly.

Now if there is "favoritism" or "nepotism" or discrimination based upon race or gender or some such, that's one thing. But I don't see any "equity" issues here at all.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 02:19 am: Edit

"Actually Yale is not equitable. Some buildings have been renovated some have not. One is famous for very poor sophormore housing and it doesn't even out later. Some have better housing all the way through. Maybe the housing itself should be more equitable to start with when it's built. And maybe perks should be built in for students who have lesser amenities."

Yes, the residential college project has not yet been completed. However, consider this: Most freshman do not live in their residential college, they live on Old Campus, which is completely different housing. Also, as you move further up, you basically get to choose your suitemates and have more options. Additionally, even unrenovated colleges have a healthy mix of comparatively good/poor rooms. So you are likely to wind up pretty even.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 02:24 am: Edit

"By the way, if we're really going to do away with segregation, maybe legacy kids should not have preference in housing. It's no surprise they end up with the better housing -- but the non-legacy families are paying the same amount."

I can't speak in general, but I will say that a legacy has basically two options in regards to housing not normally afforded to others at Yale. They can choose to be randomly assigned (default choice) or be in the residential college that their parent(s) graduated from (which were most likely originally randomly assigned to them). This doesn't necessarily equate to "better" housing for legacies.

Mini, I agree that perhaps "equity" isn't the correct term.

By Enjoyingthis (Enjoyingthis) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 02:44 am: Edit

Mini-- but I secretly wondered if somebody took pity on our little girls so far from home and put them in the nice corner rooms! It's definitely easier to defend the system when we lucked out, don't you think?

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 08:34 am: Edit

Candi -- I agree completely with what you're saying. Differential housing doesn't bother me if it's the luck of the draw, but it bothers me if the people w/more $$ to spare will be in the better housing.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 08:44 am: Edit

Reed has pretty nice dorms, some with garrett windows and fireplaces, some brand new ( well a couple years old) that do have the ambiance of a residential care facility but great views.
The asylum block is probably the yuckiest, but they take turns having various themes ( running w scissors dorm- womens floor- cat floor* etc)that make it more attractive to live there.
My daughter always had a single which was no more expensive than anything else , its the board packages that vary. You must have a board package to live in dorms but isn't required for on campus apartments.
* Seeing that a dorm was allowed to have a cat, was what made my daughter take a closer look, nothing else did the trick, but she thought that was very cool, she loved her cat, unfortunately she died when she was away at school

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 09:05 am: Edit

Yale is a special case, because there the individual residential colleges and their programming are supported by their respective alumni, who naturally would expect then a legacy preference. The presence of Alice Waters's cuisine in the Berkeley dining room has rubbed a lot of Yalies in other colleges the wrong way, I gather. My s spent a summer in an unrenovated dorm and it was pretty dingy, but the dorms are being renovated very quickly and the housing students stay in in the meantime is evidently very nice.

I do remember from our travels that at Columbia the dorms cost different amounts, depending on how nice they are. That's NYC, where everyone is acutely aware of real estate!

At my kids' school, there are a couple of residential colleges that are considered extremely desirable and others that are less so. No alumni preference, but believe me, there are big differences from one room to another, and there are no fee differences. However, students can eat in the dining hall of any residential college. And students in suites are not assigned individual rooms; they are told that if space distribution is uneven they must organize a room switch at midyear. Of course, that only makes things fair within a particular suite and doesn't address the fact that some suites and residential colleges are nicer than others. When I first saw my d's suite I can't say my first thought was "Refund!" but I was rather alarmed by its, er, compactness. However, the girls worked out an admirable arrangement and everyone is now very happy, amazingly enough.

I can't imagine my kids' school going for different fees for different dorms; they would say it would only exacerbate socioeconomic differences on campus.

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 09:16 am: Edit

I think it's unrealistic to expect everyone to be charged the same amount for housing, unless it's a very small school and the rooms are very much the same. At NYU, for undergrads, there are five traditional style dorms and sixteen apartment style. Prices (without mealplans) range from $5580 (low cost triple) to $9850 for the traditional dorms; and from $7280 to $16,600 for apartment style. There are so many factors which enter into the difference in cost, location, air-conditioning, whether there's a dining hall in the building, age of building, etc. But even then, one of the most expensive and certainly the nicest dorm at NYU is also the furthest from campus and one that a lot of kids don't want for that reason.

E.D. kids get to specify a particular dorm, R.D. kids get to specify only a type. It is randomly assigned freshman year. After that, it is done via a lottery system, based on credits, where the kids prioritize five dorms. If kids request a low cost triple, they usually get it, but not always. I don't see it as an equity issue, as much as a choice which must be made. There are pros and cons to every dorm and cost is just one of the factors.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 09:22 am: Edit

I can't imagine my kids' school going for different fees for different dorms; they would say it would only exacerbate socioeconomic differences on campus.
I think that is one reason why my daughter has enjoyed college more than high school.
We live in a blue collar neighborhood in a "cozy" but small house, she attended school with peers who lived in gated communities and in 8000 sq ft houses on sides of bluffs. Most kids were always very polite regarding the size of the house, but I admit I didn't have big parties cause there is just no room!
At college there is more equality, while some might have expensive cars ( though there is little parking) and some might have expensive clothing ( but thrift stores are the thing) where your friends live is pretty similar to where you live.

By Garland (Garland) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 09:31 am: Edit

I am also going to disagree with the majority here. In a large school with a host of various size rooms, you in effect would be asking the kid in the economy triple to subsidize the one in the air conditioned single. When I went to Michigan, every dollar I spent was hard-won, with a lot of work and loans. I was very glad to cut my costs by living in a low-cost co-op with doubles and quads, and where we worked (did the cleaning, cooking, etc.) in exchange for lower payments. Obviously everyone there was conscience of how much they could afford to pay, or the wouldn't be there. If all rooms cost the same, I would possibly have had to drop out.

The flip side here is that by saying that no one is allowed to choose to pay more, then also no one is allowed to choose to pay less. If I was just getting by, and by chance got the lowest quality room, darn right I'd resent someone in the deluxe room whom I'm subsidizing!

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 10:03 am: Edit

" Mini-- but I secretly wondered if somebody took pity on our little girls so far from home and put them in the nice corner rooms! It's definitely easier to defend the system when we lucked out, don't you think?"

LOL! Honestly, it never crossed my mind, but I'm not a psychologist. Not trying to defend the system, though. Just think it isn't an "equity" issue, as consumers are empowered with, 1) information, if they choose to have it, and 2) the ability to make other choices.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 10:03 am: Edit

Garland, how is your S at Columbia? Enjoying himself?

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 10:04 am: Edit

Good point, Garland. I had not thought about it that way.

By Garland (Garland) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 10:19 am: Edit

Candi-thanks for asking. From all communication from him (which is not much!) he seems to be having an incredible time. Very happy there. (we'll see what happens when the courseload really sinks in, though!)

You probably posted this and I forgot, but how are you liking Yale?

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 10:23 am: Edit

At Reed, each dorm has it's own attractions and I didn't see much difference in "value".
However I agree that in big university situations where there is a lot of variable in dorm selections, it should be priced more fairly.
At the UW, I would be surprised if they even ]i{had} single dorms, being as crowded as they are. Many students don't even get a dorm or have to live in a converted closet. I think it is good to have less desirable dorms be cheaper ( relatively- they still seem high to me), and I don't think that dorms with dining halls should be so different from each other if they are going to be exclusive to students that live in the hall.
( This I don't really understand, @ Reed they just have one cafeteria, cause they are more likely to be in middle of campus for meals than by their dorm, unless they live in ODB
my favorite
(http://web.reed.edu/facilities_and_grounds/buildings/olddorm.html)

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 10:29 am: Edit

Emerald, just to clarify the dining hall issue as it works at NYU. Any NYU student who has a mealplan can eat at ANY of the dining halls, regardless of what dorm they're in. The reason that a dorm which houses a dining hall may be more expensive than one which doesn't, is simply the perq of not having to go outside to eat meals. :)

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 11:08 am: Edit

"The flip side here is that by saying that no one is allowed to choose to pay more, then also no one is allowed to choose to pay less. If I was just getting by, and by chance got the lowest quality room, darn right I'd resent someone in the deluxe room whom I'm subsidizing!"

Are you sure you are subsidizing them? The largest dorm rooms when I went to school were usually the oldest, were paid off a long time ago, required very little in the way of maintenance, etc., etc. If anything, we were subsidizing those going into smaller rooms, with newer capital-related expenditures, and often, it turns out, higher heating and cooling expenses.

By Garland (Garland) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 11:18 am: Edit

ASide from the pretty much ungeneralizable cost differences, a room is worth more if it is more desirable. Your argument makes about as much sense as saying that students are getting more value if they take classes in buildings that cost more to heat.

I stand by my assertion that I valued the ability to choose lesser priced housing, and in a place with no such choice, I would resent paying the same price for less desirable housing than someone with, say, the lovely corner room.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 11:27 am: Edit

I don't disagree - I just don't think it is an "equity" issue. As a consumer, you have access to the information as to how rooms are allocated before you purchase the product. If you want differential pricing, and think that's an important issue, you can choose to attend a place where such pricing exists, and vice versa.

The fact that one room may be more "desirable" does not get anywhere close to the conclusion that one room is subsidizing another. As you would readily admit, "desirable" is in the eyes of the consumer. The small room close to the lake may be more "desirable" to some than the large room next to the waste compacting plant; the tiny room next to the outdoor track for the runner better than huge room two miles away. No matter of "equity" here. One could rent rooms by the square inch, of course, but I can't see why I'd resent someone for paying less per square inch or more per square inch unless they occupied the same space.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 11:29 am: Edit

Now at Reed they didn't have corner rooms. The corner end of building was the common room and was taken up with a lounge/kitchen, at least in the dorms I have been in.
Dorms were one consideration when choosing schools. Some good schools had teeny tiny dark dorms that were hard to imagine living in. Food quality was someting else that affects day to day standard of living and comparing a school whose vegetarian menu is the salad bar with a school who has not only vegetarian meals but vegan, and it was easy to see which my daughter prefered.

Evergreen her 2nd choice had a great looking campus all evergreen trees and steps to the water, but the dorms were institutional looking and dark, more apartment style with 3 or 4 rooms together that shared a kitchen/living area and bathroom. The mods I didn't go into but they seemed a little more homey on the outside anyway

By Garland (Garland) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 11:43 am: Edit

Well, there are obvious differences like singles, doubles, etc. For instance, UMich charges by how many in the room, plus if the room is unusually small for that number. So a single costs a lot more than an "economy triple." Seems fairly obvious and fair to me, but I guess we can argue about pretty much anything if we really want to.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 11:56 am: Edit

We don't disagree that there are differences. They are as obvious to me as they are to you (hey, I've been there, too!) What we disagree about is 1) whether it is an equity issue; and 2) whether one necessarily subsidizes the other. To me, it is simply a matter of consumer preferences.

By Garland (Garland) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 12:19 pm: Edit

If you can afford to live in an elite world, then yes, I guess it's just "consumer preference" if you prefer the French provincial or the Victorian model in the upscale subdivision. But for many people, the choice of what kind of home they have is very much dictated by what is available in their price range, and cheaper alternatives are a necessity (though those from the richer neighborhoods might hold their noses and say, why do they live that way?)

The more "obvious" room differences I'm thinking about are not ones you would probably have come across at Williams, or your daughter at Smith. But most people can't "choose" those kinds of situations, and the ability to factor in a cheaper room is simply a necessity for a lot of people.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 12:29 pm: Edit

Love Yale, it's absolutely amazing. Couldn't ask for anything more. Glad your S is enjoying Columbia.

As for the issue of dorm housing, it is sort of personal for me, I guess. I'm on the lowest floor with a spacious single. I think it is obvious that some resent me for it...Mostly everyone is paying more out-of-pocket than I am (self-help is sole contribution, mixture of work-study and loans). My good housing is due, at least partly, to the fact that I have documented physical disability (placing me on the lowest floor). Not sure if this is the reason I have a single, however. Don't wish to tell anyone in my entryway anything so that they can resent me more.:)

By Enjoyingthis (Enjoyingthis) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 02:19 pm: Edit

Mini-- I don't really disagree with your consumer oriented take on this. But, realistically, when all these kids were choosing (and being chosen by) the various colleges, there were so many other more important factors to consider, and most of us adults were trying like crazy to stand back and let the kids make their own choices. So it's not too surprising that dorm issues didn't necessarily come up at that point and people are just now seeing how things turned out and questioning the fairness of systems at various schools.

By Mimk6 (Mimk6) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 02:43 pm: Edit

Hmmm..posted but it did not come up. I used the word equity because I am from a public school background where the word is used for everything -- the worst thing is that things not be equitable and I have seen insane things justified with that word. It's a bit of a shock to go from that to an environment where things are not equitable -- whether you chose to go there or not doesn't affect whether something is equitable -- it just is or it isn't. I don't know anyone who makes a college choice based on housing (and we never would have considered making that the deciding factor) and very few people know what their housing will be before they accept a spot at a school -- usually you need a special scholarship that gives you a perk of housing choice to know in advance. My kid could have gotten the best room in the school or the worst -- I had no idea which it would be when she accepted the spot. It's not a big deal -- I was addressing the issue in general, not our specific case -- I was just wondering what people's thoughts were. But I do think the word equity applies. It seems that if you are paying the same price you should be getting the same product. If the product differes vastly, then perhaps the price should differ as well.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 02:55 pm: Edit

Enjoyingthis
Can't agree more. We only saw colleges after acceptance. At one school,My S so busy going to classes and meeting people, he told me to go around and rank choices for him. Of course, could only see outside.
Where he will attend, housed all together. Kids will be temporarily housed for 1 week, assigned to diff. house each day for meals. After that, they will select/be selected to a house. They will also have pretty good idea of picking rm/mt.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 04:04 pm: Edit

Well, at Reed they certainly do charge the same regardless of the room. I think Emeraldkity's D must have been a lot luckier than my D, who is now in Asylum Block (a block of three dorms that remind the students of a mental institution or a prison) in a shared double for the second year. But she did opt out of the food plan, saving us a LOT, by joining the food co-op.

My son, OTOH, at MIT, has a generous single room in the cheapest dorm on campus. MIT charges different rates for different rooms, with the cheapest being four people in a room designed for 2. Rates vary by size of room within each dorm as well as by dorm, but are in a fairly narrow range (except for that group of 4). The housing stock at MIT ranges from old to quite new, and the price levels demand. In my experience, and that of my son, many scholarship students live in the better housing, because of the way their scholarships work: tuition, housing, and xx dollars of EFC.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 04:20 pm: Edit

Swarthmore has a very equitable housing system. Sophmores, juniors, and seniors receive a housing lottery number with seniors getting the highest group of numbers, juniors the second highest, and sophmores the lowest. Rooms are then selected from all the dorms on campus based on those lottery numbers -- so seniors get first choice, then juniors, then sophmores.

To make it more equitable, your are assisned a cohort group based on your sophmore draw. If you are in the top third of the sophmore lottery numbers, you will be in the second third of your class one year and the bottome third of your class numbers another year. Thus, every student spents one year with a top lotto number (for that class), one year with a mid-range number (for that class), and one year with a bottom range number (for that class.

By Anxiousmom (Anxiousmom) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 11:00 pm: Edit

DD is at Rice, where you are assigned to a residential college, and that's where you live for the four years - (except the sophmore year, where you usually have to live off-campus due to limited bed space.) Surprisingly, most students want to live on campus all 4 years, even though facilities range from nice to ugly and most kids have doubles. (My daughter got UGLY, but doesn't seem to mind at all.) The housing cost is the same for all - single, double, small, large, new, old, ugly, attractive. And in spite of the fact that my DD will end up with ugly and old all four years, I'm glad they just have the one price for all.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 01:05 am: Edit

My daughter was going to be in the food coop! but then she decided to get a townhouse in woodbridge or brookstone or whatever it is across from the apts.
It was heartbreaking when her plans fell through cause they were so excited and were even "naming" it.
She is going down to visit next weekend though to make him feel better about being behind on his thesis already.

Addendum my daughter had prime picks of room cause she chose a theme dorm. Theme dorms are before teh lottery I think. Last spring she and her friend had numbers and whomever had lowest number they were going to go with.I know that they have several townhouses that only have one person in them, and they are huge, so I was thinking that they must have a lot of room this year.
( they bought a clinic and apparently some other building too)


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