September 5, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 5  

Front Page >> Editorial & Opinions > Housing's zany lie of omission


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Housing's zany lie of omission

With an occurrence as rare as this year's double cohort, it would be naive not to expect unforeseen problems when it comes to the first week of school.

In those terms, Western's two move in days went surprisingly well. In an entirely different way, however, the way the university has handled accommodation of first-year students in residence is far from ideal.

The tripling up of thirty rooms in Delaware Hall - rooms designed for two occupants - comes as a great surprise to the general university population.

Obviously, the planned conversions (the installation of bunk beds) had been in the works for quite some time. Indeed, the incoming students were informed of the situation. The problem? No one else knew.

For the past two years, any time Western officials were asked how they planned to keep their traditional promise that all first-year students are guaranteed a residence bed, they explained that a new residence (Perth Hall) was being built and many of the upper-year rooms were being reassigned.

The changes to Delaware were never mentioned. Although Susan Grindrod, associate vice-president of housing and ancillary services, denies purposely omitting the plans, the fact remains they were deliberately kept secret.

Administration's lie by omission is more of a black eye than had they been up front with their decision when it was originally made.

Sure, you could argue that only the incoming students needed to know whether they'd be stuck in a room with one more body than should be there. But Western is (supposedly) a community. And it is clear the deflection of media questions leading up to the double cohort was a public relations ploy to avoid any controversy.

The students stuck in those tripled up rooms are still in a period of adjustment like all the other frosh. But it doesnŐt take a psychic to predict a lot of them may end up unhappy with the raw deal they got, even if they were warned ahead of time.

For its part, administration was in an admittedly difficult situation. They set enrollment targets as part of an agreement with the province to accommodate the double cohort and even with the addition of Perth Hall there apparently aren't enough beds to house every first-year student.

But instead of attempting to maintain its traditional promise of a residence bed for every frosh, Western should have been realistic and up front about not being able to adequately (and fairly) give every first-year an on campus home.

Instead, they're letting a significant group of frosh pay for their ability to still say every first-year student gets a bed. It's just too bad those beds are now literally stacked on top of each other.




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