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Housing application committee responds to student concerns

The housing application for the 2022-2023 academic year opened on Wednesday, Feb. 23 with adjustments that respond to student concerns.

As with past years, specialty housing options for upperclassmen include the Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, Harold and Bibby Alfond Senior Apartments, and Heights Suites. Additional themed and specialty housing, such as substance-free, Co-op, and Healthy Colby are also accepting applications.

At the SGA meeting on Feb. 27, students expressed their dissatisfaction with the Colby housing process. These included concerns about students with Title IX violations being accepted to specialty housing and feelings that the application process has been biased against students of marginalized identities.

Students also said that the constraints of past applications have made it difficult to stand out and hope this year’s application process will be more transparent and give more weight to merit and campus involvement.

Many have also expressed a desire for multicultural housing options.

Students have displayed general dissatisfaction with the competitiveness of the housing application and the lack of specialty housing options.

“Sometimes it does feel like you need to donate a vial of blood and be a saint in order to get specialty housing, which is largely because there’s not enough of it. It’s really competitive,” Quinn Molloy ‘23 said. “I also think closing off housing outside of Colby to the student body makes it really difficult for people who don’t want to live in cubicles.”

Molloy is living in an off-campus house this year, as is Keerthi Martyn ‘22, who agreed that opening the off-campus housing option to students could relieve a lot of the pressure on the housing committee and solve some of the aforementioned issues.

“As an off campus student, I think one of the better things [Colby] did was let upperclassmen live off campus,” Martyn said. “I know they did it because they were overenrolled, but it also gave people more options. And I think having that option, not just in COVID[-19] times, but moving forward, is really important. And it’ll open up spaces. If they want to over enroll, they’re going to have to relieve the pressure somewhere else.”

“Colby limiting off-campus housing, whether they decide to do so in the future or like they have done in the past, makes the student experience really limited, especially for those who want residential experience in Waterville,” Molloy added. “If they want to promote civic engagement and engaging with Waterville, being more connected with Waterville, and getting outside of the Colby bubble, then living in actual space in a neighborhood like I do now is going to do that. So I would advocate for more options for off-campus housing.”

At the SGA meeting, Assistant Director Of Housing Operations Mike Blasco, Director of Campus Life Jess Mano, and Director of Residential Education Dan Cline assured students that the administration has heard their concerns and are making appropriate changes regarding the application process.

They said that the future of off-campus housing is not yet determined

Instead, they explained that they have worked with Associate Director of Community Values, Conflict Resolution, and Restorative Practice Jon-Mark Olivier and Title IX and Healthy Colby Coordinator Meg Hatch to “create a detailed outline explaining the eligibility process for students related to conduct and informal resolutions.”

 Campus Life has also been in touch with Tayo Clyburn and Kimberly Walton-Trajkovski “to revise the current questions’’ and create a more inclusive application. Campus Life also provided students with a more detailed application outline than in past years.

In an effort to provide more transparency, they explained that housing applications will be reviewed by members of the Athletics Department, Campus Life, members of the faculty in residence progrsm, and the Pugh Center according to a standardized grading rubric.

They said that housing applications will now be name-blind in hopes of eliminating potential biases.

Students may be deemed ineligible for specialty housing if they have previously been suspended from Colby for Title IX violations or academic integrity, have violated Colby’s Code of Conduct, or will be on probation during the time of residence in the specialty housing.

Housing applications and accommodation requests are due on March 11 at 11:59 p.m.

~ Elsa Russell ’22

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