Friday, March 7, 2008

The Off Campus Option

Unlike many schools where students move off campus to find better housing, I moved off campus to find cheaper housing. At GW, a typical junior year and senior dorm (New Hall, Ivory, E St) costs between $10,815 and $11,845 for an academic year (an academic year is 8 months, since GW housing does not include summer housing or housing during winter break, both of which cost extra.) That's a minimum of $1352 per month for a quad.

To be fair, rent in DC is expensive, and our dorms do have premium cable and internet included. But GW is basically charging $5408 for a two bedroom apartment (four people at $1352 a month).

If I wanted to spend the summer in DC, I knew that I would have to do better.

In theory, GW is helpful with off campus housing. There is an office of off campus student affairs that provides basic information. However, even among the basic information, there was a lack of information about housing discrimination, additional expenses associated with moving off campus (move-in fees, appication fees,) cosigner requirements, etc.

The website is extremely PC, and lacks student input. For example, when describing neighborhoods, the website writes:
Southwest: This is the downtown area near Washington's waterfront. Southwest includes a wide range of economic and ethnic groups and is the location of many Federal buildings. New apartment complexes are being built in this area at very reasonable rates. Public transportation exists in the way of Metro buses and the Metrorail system. Commuting time to campus is approximately 20-30 minutes
It fails to mention gang activity in the area.

The website would be more effective with a forum, where students could ask questions and describe their off campus living experiences. A craigslist style posting page would also be helpful for letting students find off campus roommates and summer subletters from within the GW community.

A recent Hatchet article about the off campus student fair, which drew almost 100 students wrote
Promises of free food, giveaways and door prizes likely drew the slew of students to the event. Students eagerly waited in line to snatch up housing-themed handbags, mouse pads, playing cards, pens, cups, Frisbees, nachos and chicken wings provided by WOW Wingery and pulled pork sandwiches provided by Tonic.
While it's great that GW makes the off campus housing event a social gathering, it's of no use to me if i learn nothing about living off campus. Once again, I know that if I want to figure anything out at GW, I have to figure it out on my own.

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