Campus life is becoming increasingly unaccommodating for students
Housing applications for the 2023-2024 academic year recently went live on the Brandeis MyHousing portal. We would like to remind students to fill out the application before the March 15 deadline and wish them good luck. The editorial board would like to urge Brandeis to be more transparent about the housing selection process for current first-year students that have never experienced it and feel uninformed as far as the next steps.
Brandeis has been accepting more students each year, resulting in the class of 2026 being the largest in Brandeis’ history. To accommodate the student population this academic year, much of the housing process was changed, including the creation of more forced triples and changes to the requirements for different quads, such as Ridgewood and Foster Mods, which in the past have been senior-only housing. Despite the increasing number of students with a need for a space to live, Brandeis has been slow to build new housing. The Justice reported on University plans to update housing on campus before COVID-19. This board recognizes that these plans were delayed due to COVID-19; however, this board believes these plans should be revisited to accommodate our ever-growing student body if they have not been already. Students and community members would appreciate updates on the status of plans to construct and renovate campus housing. We have also critiqued this failure in University communication in a November 2022 editorial.
Brandeis offers guaranteed housing for students’ first four consecutive semesters; with more underclassmen than ever, there is less space available for junior and senior students who are not guaranteed on-campus housing. Despite this growing problem, the Department of Community Living claims to accommodate everyone who applies for housing, including students who are put on the housing waitlist. However, this statistic does not represent the common occurrence of students taking themselves off the waitlist seeking out off-campus housing to ensure they have a place to live during the next academic year. The editorial board would like to urge Brandeis to build more housing options to accommodate more of the student body.
We would like to acknowledge the further impact that the Brandeis housing crisis is having on the surrounding Waltham community. The lack of options available for Brandeis students as the student body continues to grow in size is increasing the demand for off-campus housing, which when mixed with Bently University causes increased demand for rentals in the town of Waltham. This negatively impacts non-Brandeis Waltham residents and makes the town less accessible to community members. This also means that housing for students that opt for off-campus housing, whether by choice or out of necessity financial burden, as the school reduces aid to students that live off campus.
It is also worth noting living off campus means students are not required to pay for meal plans. Though off campus rentals can cost more, they are also the cheaper option.
In addition, the editorial board would like to acknowledge the fact that since there is not enough on-campus housing and students are forced to live off-campus, the number of students who rely on University transportation to successfully make it to campus will only continue to increase. We would like to address problems with University transportation on and off the Brandeis campus. Although it was just announced that the Boston/Cambridge shuttle will begin service again starting Feb. 17, the decrease in days that the shuttle is running — from Thursday-Sunday to Friday-Sunday — will casue inconveniences to students, making Boston and its resources less accessible. We would like to urge the University to reconsider the reduction in the days of the week that it is available, as students should not be further negatively impacted by the tragic events of the fall semester.
The BranVan’s lack of reliability causes stress for students and can often leave them with limited or no options. Many students rely on University transportation in their day-to-day lives, and it is especially crucial for those with mobility issues and disabilities. There are often unexpected changes, or gaps in BranVan service, which are not communicated to students, leaving students without a convenient way to get to, from, or around campus. We urge the University to improve real-time communication surrounding its transportation services. Also, we would like to advise the University to offer additional options for ways to attend class, such as over Zoom if the BranVan is canceled, as it is a vital aspect of the academic ventures of students on and off this campus.
For the comfort and accessibility of students at this university, serious updates need to be made to the housing selection process and options, as well as University transportation. Every student deserves to live comfortably and conveniently.
—Editor’s note: Editor Cameron Cushing ’23 is employed by the Department of Community Living as a Community Advisor. He did not contribute to or edit this article.