I loved my roommate during the fall semester of my freshman year. We got along great. We both hated cleaning and went to bed late and loved riding horses. She would talk about all of the interesting science stuff she was studying and I would pretend to understand her.
Yet, I wish I’d never been placed with her.
My roommate was an RA, though that wasn’t the issue. Rather, having all of the other RAs coming to talk and being the center of the hall helped me to ingratiate myself to my neighbors and grow accustomed to college life.
Instead, the problems for me came after I was moved out.
For those unaware, RAs are supposed to have their own rooms. It’s part of their contracts. So, as soon as a room became available, I was moved to a completely different building. For some reason, I had my own room to myself with no roommate. I knew people who were still living in lounges as part of the university’s temporary housing plan to find rooms for all the students they over-enrolled, so I’m not sure how that happened. All I know is that I was completely uprooted from the small community that I had found and placed in a completely different environment on my own.
I don’t think that I was ever able to fully transition. I’m an introvert by nature and even now it takes a fair amount of convincing to get me to go anywhere that is not the library.
My floor in my new dorm was a mix of people, mostly freshmen, all of whom had been moved midway through the year. All of us had already formed friend groups in our previous halls, so by the time we were all forced to live together, everyone had somewhere else they wanted to be. Some people arrived knowing other members of the hall, but I didn’t. I didn’t even have the typical university-mandated companion in the form of a roommate.
That was probably the hardest few months of my life. I would meet with my friends whenever I could but most of them were not in my major, so our paths rarely crossed. I grew lonely. The people in my dorm were friendly but we didn’t have the opportunity to bond during the fall semester. I could tell that I wasn’t the only one growing more depressed as the semester went along. I think most of us yearned to return to our previous halls.
All things considered though, I think I got off pretty lucky. In comparison, some of my friends who lived in the lounges with four other people where there was never any privacy and cleanliness was just about unheard of. One girl I knew had serious roommate troubles but was unable to move because she was told there was nowhere else for her to live.
I know the appeal of all of that extra money is strong. It’s tempting to accept every single source of income into Tech’s fold. With the extra revenue, maybe Cassell Coliseum could be made into something that actually resembles a basketball arena.
But at the end of the day, it’s the most vulnerable students that will pay the price of over-enrollment. They are not the ones who will experience whatever benefits the over-enrolled is purported to bring.
The town of Blacksburg is also struggling to keep up with the university’s growth. Without a voice on the Board of Visitors, the community is being forced to play catch-up. It is growing more and more difficult to find off-campus housing and the transit system already has to deal with serious delays due to the number of students trying to catch the bus at certain times.
All in all, over-enrollment puts the economic desires of the few over the needs of both the students and the town. We students are already paying what feels like the GDP of a small nation. The least we should be able to expect to receive is the security of stable and comfortable housing.