Volume 91, Issue 73

Friday, February 6, 1998



Student will work for shelter

Re: Homeless second-year students

By Karen Bong
Gazette Staff

Homelessness. It is the timeless, universal stain that has been the embarrassment of countries worldwide; the centre of an eternal struggle to ensure humane living conditions. This most deplorable indicator of poverty is not unheard of in Canada and very, very soon it will be right here at Western.

The great housing search has begun and this year there is a disproportionately large number of first-year students joining in the fray. With new residence rules which effectively cut upper-year students out of on-campus housing, next year's second-year students have few alternatives. The traditional-style on-campus residences are off-limits, as Western desires to keep its guarantee of residence to all first-year students.

The upper-year apartments such as Beaver and Ausable will only consider applications from students entering third or fourth year. Lambton Hall is the only on-campus residence that is accepting applications from first-year students. Therefore, what is next year's on-campus housing allocation for second-year students? One-third of all vacancies at Lambton Hall. In a small building with only 150 double apartments, that is precious little indeed.

For those of us still riding high on the "Welcome to Western!" feeling, it is a great shock to go from being ensured all the comforts the university can offer to being unceremoniously turned out onto the street. Now that Western has effectively captured this year's academic crop for the next two or three years, the university is quite happy to let us fend for ourselves. Who cares about second-year students getting into residence when we need to attract new recruits? One gets the feeling that their only intention was to get us in the door.

On-campus housing really only has one purpose. Elsewhere, there are certainly cheaper, more luxurious accommodations in more exciting districts or more reputable neighbourhoods. Students live next to the endless grind of academics because of the convenience. Residence gives one the experience of living in the heart of a youth culture, in an academic community that combines personal diversity with mutual intellectual concerns. Living on campus reduces the isolation one feels from being far away from home and keeps a student close to their four-year goal: a university education.

In the end, it is really up to Western's housing administration to do something. Anything. Set up a responsible system which helps first-year students find safe and acceptable housing for their next year. Let us camp out on University College hill, free of charge until the boom for housing can be satisfied by the choked housing market (which, incidentally, has experienced accelerated inflation due to an entire class of students looking for a place within walking distance to campus). Or simply apologize for the gross lack of consideration for this year's first-year students, who, as second-year students, will be just as much an academic, artistic and athletic asset as we were when we merited guaranteed residence. So long as first-years are busy scrambling for next year's shelter, they will be too busy to complain about the status-quo. But looking at the situation, there really isn't too much you can't learn about how the administration's priorities are really set.

To Contact The Opinions Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998