Students express concerns over housing, RAMZ Hall closing

Audra Shreve

Contributing Writer

The closing of RAMZ Hall has limited housing options and increased uncertainty over student housing, some freshman say.

Jane E. Firer, the associate director for administrative services for the Residential Life and Housing Office, said there are approximately 1,200 housing spots available for upperclassmen each year. However, the end of VCU’s lease of upperclassmen dorm RAMZ Hall has limited students’ options for on-campus housing.

Firer said with RAMZ Hall gone, there will be fewer rooms available, and upperclassmen who wanted to re-sign for their current rooms in RAMZ Hall were given first choice for open rooms in other upperclassmen dorms before the freshmen.

Carmen Proctor, a sophomore, is a former resident of the dorm. She said she signed for a room next year in Broad and Belvidere, and the switch from RAMZ Hall forced her and her roommate apart. Next year she will be living with three strangers.

“I am very comfortable where I am at in RAMZ Hall,” Proctor said.  “I had no intentions of moving until I graduated but at this point I have no choice.”

While some students say providing housing for the former RAMZ Hall residents first is fair, some freshmen who want to continue living on-campus say getting second-choice seems inefficient.

Symone Anthony, a freshman living in Rhoads Hall, said she is troubled by her housing problem.

“It’s complete chaos for freshman,” Anthony said. “We don’t know what we’re doing.”

Anthony said she believes housing options should go to freshman first.

“Upperclassmen should be getting off-campus apartments before us, because they’ve been around here longer and know more about Richmond,” Anthony said.

Anthony received a lottery number of 952. She said she was allowed to sign in online to search for housing, but all of the dorms were full. She said she is currently searching for off-campus apartments.

“I just like the benefits of being in a dorm setting, like the ability to meet people, the community rooms and the patios, for instance,” Anthony said. “You don’t have that in regular apartments off-campus.

Other students say the issue of off-campus housing is lack of 24/7 security surveillance. Hope Lee, a freshman, said security and proximity were her concerns about living off-campus.

Lee, who lives in Johnson Hall, said she received a high lottery number. She said she is looking for off-campus apartments because she did not get a room in an upperclassmen dorm. Lee said she blames the privilege of certain majors.

“If you’re a student in business, engineering or the arts, you get first pick to live in Cary and Belvidere,” Lee said.

Evelynn Escobar-Thomas, a freshman living in Johnson Hall, is signed for a room in next year, but only because her roommate pulled her into the living arrangement.

“There was and still is a lot of panicking among the freshman,” Escobar-Thomas said. “A lot of people were left out so they are scrambling to see what kind of off-campus options there are.”

Escobar-Thomas said freshmen should not panic because some students signed up for on-campus housing still might choose to live off-campus.

“The dorm right now is kind of a ‘just-in-case’ thing,” Escobar-Thomas said. “Cary and Belvidere is the most expensive on-campus option, so we’re looking for something cheaper off-campus.”

Firer said if students find something more suited for them before March 31, the openings they provide will go to students still waiting for on-campus housing. VCU usually offers spaces for upperclassmen to live in GRC and Cabaniss Hall.

“Often, if you are patient and can wait, a space will become available,” Firer said.

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