Dorm proposal prioritizes sophomores
The plan also drops the precedence of some upperclassmen
Returning sophomores who want to live in dorms again at the University of Hawaii at Manoa will be given priority over most other returning students under a proposal up for approval by interim Chancellor Denise Konan.
The proposed changes would also drop mainland and international students who will be juniors or seniors down on the priority list below students who are from the North Shore, Waianae, Kapolei and Kaaawa.
Currently, incoming freshmen, no matter where they are from, have the highest priority for student housing.
Interim Housing Director Laurie Furutani said the changes will allow sophomores, no matter where they are from, the chance to continue to live in an on-campus environment that is conducive to learning.
But as students get older, the educational need for student housing declines, Furutani said.
She said the housing office is also trying to comply with a Board of Regents policy that gives priority to Hawaii students who live beyond a reasonable commuting distance.
But mainland students now living in the dorms say it is not fair to give housing to people who already live on Oahu over students who do not have family on the island.
"It's easier for someone from here to get housing. I guess the assumption is people from the mainland have money," Benjamin Garcia said.
"That would make things a little more difficult," said William Barlaan, a mainland student who lives in Hale Noelani.
Barlaan said he did not get housing when he first arrived and that it cost him an extra $300 a month to rent a studio apartment rather than pay dorm rates.
Some Hawaii students agreed.
"Oahu students should have it last," said Dalia Solia. On the other hand, she noted, "after a year in the dorms, you don't want to stay here anyway."
There are 3,078 beds available for students who want to live on campus. In 2005 everyone in the top two priority categories -- freshman, neighbor island, mainland, international, North Shore and Waianae students -- who applied on time was accommodated, according to Konan's testimony at a legislative hearing.
But about 1,000 students ended up on a waiting list.
Last year, a similar proposal to drop neighbor island, mainland and international students down on the priority list faced overwhelming opposition from dorm residents and was not implemented.
This year, a meeting for residents to voice their opinions on the proposal was held on the day students returned from spring break, and only six students attended.
Some students said they were not aware the university was planning changes to the priority list.
Furutani acknowledged the short notice of the meeting. However, she said students could have registered their comments on a Web site set up by the housing office.
She also said the housing office hopes to reduce the waiting list after the initial housing assignments more quickly by sending notices out by e-mail and requiring deposits for housing sooner.