West Lodge

Junior Asha Ponniah has lived in West Lodge 154 for the past three years. Changes to the squatting policy will put her through her first round of room draw for her senior year.

Changes to the room draw process no longer allow for students to squat in rooms. With housing in high demand, the ban on squatting will bring more equal room opportunity for Eckerd’s growing student population.

Squatting allowed students to stay in their current rooms for the following year, and the deadline to squat was set before the normal room draw deadline. Students chose to squat in their dorms for many reasons, including ease, stability or a love of the room. 

But large amounts of squatting have restricted certain houses from going through the process of room draw. When more dorms squat, students have less opportunity to live in other housing locations which may be more desirable to them.

“We had one house last year where more than 75% of the house squatted in that building,” Associate Director of Housing William Otto said. “It’s great that they wanted to stay in that environment, but it’s unfair to all the other students who wanted to live there.”

According to Otto, there have been several cases of a student squatting in one room for their entire college career, preventing other students from ever drawing that room even with senior standing.

Years ago, with a smaller student body, squatting worked well. Many dorms were empty, and students could easily live wherever they wanted. But with the influx of students and larger incoming class sizes, the system has become flawed. 

Additionally, upperclassmen pass on the rights of their room to underclassmen without letting other students have a shot. 

“If you had the right connections and you knew someone who had that open spot, they could [give you the rights], whereas if you didn’t know that... you don’t have those opportunities,” Otto said.

Students who have squatted in previous years, like junior Asha Ponniah, will now have to go through room draw. Ponniah has squatted for the past two years, living in the same room for the past three. Her reason was that she required a pet-friendly dorm and didn’t want to go through room draw. 

Most students who have squatted in the past, including Ponniah, now have junior or senior standing. They still have a good chance to reclaim their room fairly through the room draw process, but now other students have a fair shot.

“It wasn’t the best system but I wish they hadn’t gotten rid of it altogether. I wish they’d just revised it,” Ponniah said.

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