On Saturday March 21, a large group of students began lining up outside of Oscar Peterson Hall around 8 p.m. in the hopes of obtaining specific residence units for next semester.
The application process was advertised to begin on Sunday, March 22. Students were to register in person between noon and 5 p.m. in Colman Commons, Oscar Peterson Hall.
During past years, a sizeable lineup usually began around 8 a.m. on registration day. We thought we’d get ahead of that this year, said first-year student Rachel Conceicao. I think word spread from there, and by the time the residence staff came to set up there was already a decent crowd lined up.
By the time the clock struck 1 a.m., a large crowd of approximately 400 students had formed in and around Oscar Peterson Hall.As a safety measure, staff from Student Housing and Residence Life (SHRL), who is in charge of this application process, took the names of students lined up before the advertised registration time of noon the next day.
At a certain point, the volume of people became a safety and fire code concern for us. Measures were required to eliminate this concern. Under consultation with Campus Police, student and professional staff, and returning student applicants, the decision was made to ask students to leave, while implementing a system that honoured their placement in line, explained Emma Beamson, communications coordinator for SHRL.
Students who were unaware of the proposed line-up the night before arrived at Colman Commons the next morning only to find all the spaces filled before registration time.
Nobody wanted to line up that early and spend sixteen hours in line. But a panic started, as if there were going to be no more rooms left. People who arrived to line up in the morning were sure to be waitlisted and some just gave up on residence all together, said second-year student, Marc Bressler.
Many students have maintained that if they were aware of this issue, they would not have left residence for the weekend to visit family or any other purpose.
In spite of this, Beamson maintains that the application process began at noon on Sunday as advertised. We did not process any applications before noon. As we opened up at noon, students were called according to their placement in line.
Some students have also redflagged accessibility concerns, claiming that students with accessibility needs and could not wait in line overnight, were not reserved any spots. However, SHRL has since refuted this claim. We did take into consideration students with disabilities, and offered them the opportunity to submit an Accessibility Report to our department before March 15. Arrangements were made with individual students based on their needs, said Beamson.
Student Housing and Residence Life has acknowledged the shortfalls of this system in light of this development and ensures that this will not happen in subsequent years. We will definitely look into the system for upcoming years and explore ways to improve its efficiency. We are always looking for creative ways to accommodate returning students needs and interests, while at the same time balancing a first-year student housing guarantee, which is mandated by the Provosts office.
As for now, students without a place on residence next year will have to look for off-campus housing, which will arguably be harder to find.