October 7, 2021

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Sophomores on new housing requirement


A guide to offcampus housing at Penn


OPINION | How to navigate off-campus living


A rundown of campus housing options and application dates Students must fill out an application to live in on-campus housing for the 2022-2023 year TYLER HARRIS Staff Reporter


he application process to live in campus housing for the 2022-2023 academic year will begin in late October. Here are some of the key dates and time frames you'll need to know, as well as which college houses are available for upperclassmen. Key dates to apply for campus housing The Preferred Room Selection Application opens for current sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a graduation date later than May 30, 2022, on Oct. 26, Penn Residential and Hospitality Services Senior Associate Director Courtney Dombroski wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. This application indicates to Housing and Residential Services which students are interested in living on campus in the following school year. Signing a Preferred Room Selection Application will also provide students with an advantage when room selection timeslots are determined. The room selection application opens for all undergraduate students in January 2022. Those applying to live in a program community, which are living-and-learning environments that concentrate on a shared interest among residents, must submit their applications on a currently indeterminate date between February and March 2022. Examples of program communities offered to upperclassmen include Cultures Collective, Arts House, and the Biosciences Community. Rising juniors and seniors who want to continue living in the same college house next year will be able to indicate so during the Return to House period, which will run from February to March 2022. The Move to Any House period will also



Room selection application opens for all undergraduate students

October 26

take place during February and March of 2022. Current first-year and transfer students will be able to access the room selection application once it opens in late January. Where upperclassmen can apply to live on campus Sophomores, juniors, and seniors have the option to live in any of four four-year communities or the four houses reserved for upperclassmen. High Rises Three high-rise apartment buildings are available for upperclassmen: Harnwell College House, Harrison College House, and Rodin College House. Each house occupies about 775 residents in single, double, triple, and quad apartments. The high rises are home to rooftop study lounges, as well as lounges on each floor. Other accommodations include exercise rooms, meeting rooms, and computer labs, as well as a number of program communities. The high rises are situated along Locust Walk near 39th and 40th streets. New College House West Penn's newest housing option opened its doors for the first time this fall after a record-shattering $169.5 million construction. Located near 40th and Walnut streets, NCHW houses 430 sophomores, juniors, and seniors in three- to six-bedroom suites. Amenities include a dining cafe, private courtyard, coffee bar, meditation room, and fitness room. NCHW is also home to the Quaker Kitchen, a dining facility that serves a restaurantstyle dinner four to five nights each week and offers basic cooking lessons to students. Lauder College House Home to 344 students, including 100 first

years, Lauder College House offers residents three- to six-bedroom suites. Similar in design to NCHW, Lauder's amenities include a private courtyard, seminar rooms, lounges on each floor, and a dining hall. Lauder is located near 34th and Walnut streets. Gregory College House A four-year community, Gregory houses 240 students, nearly half of which are first years, in single, double, and quad rooms. Gregory features study spaces, kitchen and TV lounges, as well as several program communities. The house, located near 39th and Spruce streets, was the most recent and final college house to install air conditioning. Du Bois College House Du Bois is a two-floor, four-year residence comprised of primarily apartment-style rooms with single, double, triple, and quad rooms. Known as a hub for Black student life on campus, Du Bois regularly hosts programming related to Black history and culture. Amenities include a library, seminar room, computer lab, exercise room, and art gallery. Du Bois occupies 159 residents, including 43 first years, and is located between 39th and 40th streets. Stouffer College House Stouffer is a two-building, four-year community located on 38th and Spruce streets. The college house consists of Stouffer Hall, a two-floor traditional dormitory-style residence with single and double rooms, and Mayer Hall, a seven-floor building with one- to two-bedroom apartments. Amenities include TV lounges, a piano, a pool table, a basketball court outside of Stouffer Hall, and an exercise room located in Mayer Hall.

Preferred room selection application opens for current sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Applications due for program communities, returning to College House, and moving to another College House

January 2022

February through March 2022

All students who live in NCHW are encouraged to participate in the design collective

residents or other people part of the community, Stornaiuolo said. "Working in these smaller chunks also feels like a more democratic and doable kind of mechanism for coming to consensus," said Stornaiuolo. Students were also a part of establishing an identity for Lauder College House, which opened in 2016, Stornaiuolo said. "I think a core component of Penn as an institution is to think about students as key stakeholders in their own educational experience," said Stornaiuolo. Students have had positive experiences as members of the committee so far and enjoyed their role in shaping the identity of NCHW. "It's a great honor just to be able to be one of the first-class that's living in this dorm. The logo and the motto are things that are going to stand


Trina Sokoloski had residents write the themes that they want to see in the NCHW community embody on a whiteboard as part of a scavenger SAYA DESAI hunt. From there, the design collective took Contributing Reporter all the data and embarked on a three-week deMembers of the inaugural class of New Col- sign sprint to distill all the themes down to six lege House West residents have the opportunity core ideas, including sustainability, home and to shape the dorm's identity for years to come. warmth, innovation, nature and growth, destinaA six-student team, led by NCHW Fac- tion, and creativity. ulty Director Amy Stornaiuolo, will decide the The committee then sent out a survey to house motto, logo, colors, and coat of arms. All NCHW residents, asking them to rank the students who live in NCHW are encouraged to themes. The design collective will then analyze join the committee to have their voices heard as the survey and decide which themes should be part of the design collective. embodied in the motto, the colors, the logo, and The team’s first goal is to establish a motto, the coat of arms. which will dictate the other features of the The goal of using smaller design sprints is house identity. to take their time and give as many opportuniIn the first week of school, House Director ties for different people to join, whether that be


in history over time, so I think it's really important to contribute to that and just be part of the community," committee member and College sophomore Nithin Ramachandran. New College House West opened this fall, offering students suite-style apartments with a dining cafe, private courtyard, coffee bar, and spectacular views of the city. Stornaiuolo said she wanted to spearhead the design collective because of her previous experience in design leadership, and her desire to make NCHW feel like a “home away from home.” For example, Quaker Kitchen, a central component of the house, focuses on connection around food, Stornaiuolo said. The design collective allows a lot of people to get involved and creates a structure for implementing ideas and getting feedback. "I would emphasize that these students who've come forward, I mean, it doesn't surprise me because every time I work with Penn students, they always surprise me by how brilliant they are. But these folks are so good," said Stornaiuolo. The committee is still looking for more people to join. There are many ways to get involved in the committee, with roles including analyzing statistical data and using Qualtrics or designing the logo and coat of arms, Stornaiuolo said. Wharton sophomore Sapphira Ching said she is interested in designing the logo as part of the design collective. "I love New College House West and I wanted to contribute to the design aspect of the house,” Ching said. “So I think those two come together in this committee."


New College House West residents to decide house motto, logo, colors, and coat of arms




Sophomores have mixed opinions on new housing requirement While many reported a sense of community in their dorms, some feel that the requirement is too restrictive MATTEO BUSTERNA Contributing Reporter

This is the first year Penn is requiring all sophomores to live in on-campus housing — and students have mixed feelings about the change. The new housing policy is part of the Second-Year Experience, which includes special programming and a two-year on-campus housing requirement beginning with the Class of 2024. While many sophomores reported a sense of community and convenience in their dorms, some students feel that the housing requirement is too restrictive and the drawbacks of the policy outweigh Penn’s goals of community building and enhanced academic and social support.

College houses push students to break the ‘Penn bubble’ Students can explore Philadelphia with their hall mates through college house events



EMMA BHANSINGH Contributing Reporter

From Old City to the Gayborhood, College Houses are giving students the opportunity to explore different parts of Philadelphia with their hallmates during their first in-person semester at Penn. Each College House has its own calendar of events to give students the chance to leave campus while engaging with the faculty, staff, and students in their House. Events include canoeing down the Delaware River, walking to the farmers market at Clark Park, and partaking in mural tours of the city. Hill College House has already hosted several events, including a trip to Old City on Sept. 19 during which students took SEPTA to visit the birthplace of American independence. Students went to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Betsy Ross House, attendee and College first year Lila DiMasi said. The students also visited Elfreth's Alley, one of the oldest streets in America, which DiMasi said was a highlight of the trip. She heard about

Community and Convenience Many sophomores, including Harrison College House resident and College sophomore Farheen Shamdasani, said they appreciate the proximity of the College Houses to Penn classrooms and other buildings on campus. Shamdasani added that she appreciates living close to her friends, now that all sophomores are required to live on campus. Students are able to choose their roommates or live with roommates assigned by the University in on-campus housing. New College House West resident and College sophomore Anna Siv added that while she has had a good experience socially, living in an upperclassmen College House isn’t as effective at community building as residing in the Quad or Hill College House where only first-year students live. All of the upperclassmen College Houses — NCHW, Harrison, Rodin College House, and Harnwell College House — are located near each other on the west side of the bridge over 38th Street, while the four-year College Houses are scattered across campus. Many juniors and seniors who do not live on campus also reside on the west side of the bridge. Engineering sophomore Anthony Bell, who lives in Lauder College House, one of the four-year College Houses, said there is a divide between those who live in College Houses on different sides of the bridge. Lauder College House is located between 33rd and 34th.

Bell added, however, that he is content with his living situation due to its close proximity to the athletic facilities and Engineering Quad, as a player on the men’s football team and an Engineering student. Cost of Living All rooms for upperclassmen have two room rates, $11,356 or $15,418, which vary according to room type. Sophomores are required to pay one of these prices, rather than look for cheaper off-campus accommodations — a blow to many students. Wharton sophomore Matthew Matese, who lives in NCHW with some of his fraternity brothers, said his fraternity had a hard time filling their house due to the new housing requirement, since many sophomores typically live in Greek housing. Under the new requirement, only juniors and seniors are allowed to live in fraternity and sorority housing, despite Penn owning some of the chapter houses. Matese said he also has additional expenses for abiding by Penn’s requirement, paying an “Out-of-House Member Fee” for living on campus in college housing, not in his fraternity house. “The worst part is I could live somewhere else for cheaper,” Matese said. But for Harrison resident and Engineering sophomore Declan Cambey, the housing requirement offers ease for students who may be intimidated by finding off-campus housing — notwithstanding its cost.

the event from her graduate associate, who is on the social committee and helped to organize the event. DiMasi said she is excited to attend future events since one of the reasons she wanted to come to Penn was to explore another part of the city after growing up in South Philadelphia. Upcoming Hill events include a visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary for "A Halloween Festival of Epic Proportions!" on Oct. 30. Transportation and discounted general admission tickets will be available for Hill residents. Rodin College House also has a specialized committee called “Rodin and Beyond,” which organizes off-campus programs for students. The first event was a visit to Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, where students could roller skate, play boardwalk games, and enjoy food and drinks on the Delaware River. Another community within Rodin called The Rodin Arts Collective is dedicated to exploring arts and culture, and organized a trip to an outdoor concert at an arboretum, as well as a guided tour of the Institute of Contemporary Art. Upcoming events for Rodin include a tour of the Japanese Cultural Center at Fairmount Park, a mural arts walking tour with Rodin faculty, and a trip to the Camden Aquarium over Thanksgiving break, House Director Kathryn McDonald wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. McDonald also hosts a monthly walk every second Saturday of the fall semester to the weekly farmers market at Clark Park. “The benefits [of the events] include connections with other members of the Rodin community, as well as interacting with faculty

One of the locations students in Hill College House visited was Independence Hall.

“It definitely does offer some security for people who are otherwise not the most financially stable,” said Cambey, who is a firstgeneration, low-income student. While Harnwell resident and College sophomore Riley Macks, who is also a FGLI student, said she is enjoying her dorm experience as she did not want to live off-campus this year, she said that she was frustrated by the Second-Year Experience's requirement that sophomores purchase a dining plan. Sophomores had the opportunity to choose from a new second-year dining plan, with approximately 10 swipes per week, and the two existing first-year plans. Penn administrators previously said that the change is intended to build community around shared meals and alleviate concerns about food insecurity on campus. Members of the Class of 2024 previously told The Daily Pennsylvanian that they felt blindsided by the new requirement, calling it a “blatant cash grab.” Macks said that although the dining plans available to sophomores are cheaper than the ones for first years, she wasn’t aware of the extra expenses when applying to Penn and communicating with Student Registration and Financial Services. She added that the required dining plan has amounted to “a lot of money wasted,” since it can be cheaper to buy groceries and cook. “I like living on campus, [but] I don’t think it should be required because I know a lot of people who had other plans,” Macks said.


and staff beyond the classroom,” she wrote. Upcoming events at Kings Court English College House include the Biosphere's Annual Canoe Trip on Oct. 9. For a $15 co-pay, students will be driven to Delaware for a six-mile canoe down the Brandywine River. Lauder College House residents traveled to the Museum of the American Revolution on Sept. 29 as part of a monthly program initiative called “Philly Field Trips,” started by Lauder House Director Mitchell Holston. The field trip for October will either be a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art or a mural walk throughout the city, Holston said. “One of our learning goals is exploration, and it really focuses on getting students out of the Penn bubble and really getting them out into Philadelphia and having them be a part of

the community that's out there,” Holston said. Lauder is also hosting a “StRoll with Me” series, during which students walk through parts of campus and the city to learn more about Penn and Philadelphia. The next “StRoll with Me” event will take place on Friday, Oct. 8 with a trip to Philadelphia's Gayborhood to learn about Philadelphia's nationwide impact on gay activism. The Lauder events have been particularly helpful for its primarily sophomore residents to meet other students, since their first year at Penn was primarily virtual, Holston said. “We're here to serve you all and be able to give you all engaging experiences, make you all enjoy our experience here at Penn and your experiences in the house, but then also learn and grow together,” Holston said.






Find your new place in University City.



All first years in the Huntsman Program live in KCECH STEPHANIE CHEN Staff Reporter


otherwise if I had just lived in the Quad.” Although Huntsman first year Alexander Zhou was initially “bummed” to not be living in the Quad, he said that living in Kings Court English College House has “surpassed his highest expectations.” “Usually our doors are always open, and we're just kind of in and out of each other's rooms, hanging out,” Zhou said. “Or if we want to go to Center City, then we'll go with each other. I feel like we’re one large friend group.” Zhou added that he can feel comfortable knowing that there is always a community for him back at Kings Court English College House, but acknowledged that one disadvantage of the College House is that the dorm, located at 36th and Sansom streets, is farther away from the center of

campus than other College Houses. “It can be a hassle sometimes, especially if I'm running late to a class,” Zhou said. But because of the dorm's slightly removed location, Zhou found it to be conducive for a tight-knit, collaborative community where students can easily befriend each other. Garity added that Kings Court English College House has amenities such as a game room with ping pong tables, a movie room, a library, and a dining hall that reopened this semester. There is also a courtyard outside with a pond and foliage, where Garity said she likes to study. “I think overall, it's a unique experience that pretty much no other program, or at least that I know of, has,” Zhang said.


By bringing together a group of students with diverse interests in languages and cultures from around the globe, the third floor of Kings Court English College House, tucked away on the edge of campus, is a hub for global diversity on campus. The third floor of Kings Court English College House is the residential home for all first years in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. Students in the Huntsman Program earn two degrees: one in a "target" language and area studies from the College of Arts and Sciences, and one in economics from the Wharton School. With the exception of those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, all Huntsman students study abroad for one semester where they can apply their language skills and area studies training. Huntsman sophomore Julie Espinal is from El Salvador with a target language of French. While the pandemic prevented Espinal and the other Huntsman first-year students from living on the same floor last semester, they were still able to live in Kings Court English College House across multiple floors.

Espinal said that living in Kings Court English College House was an enriching experience, recalling that she was able to practice speaking French with multiple native speakers in the dorm. “It's nice that in the program itself you have people that are native speakers of the language you're targeting,” Espinal said. “I also really enjoyed the exposure to the many different cultures. I learned so much about people's customs and the way of life back home.” Espinal said she met students from countries including Azerbaijan, Mexico, Peru, and the United Kingdom. She also recalled celebrating Chinese New Year with her Huntsman peers at Dim Sum House and then playing traditional Chinese New Year games back in the dorm. Huntsman sophomore Tracy Zhang similarly found the diversity of nationalities and the accessibility of practicing her target language of Korean a unique aspect of living in Kings Court English College House. “I'm super passionate about learning different languages,” Zhang said. “So I think I valued that, and it's not something I'm really getting on a regular basis right now, because I'm no longer living in Kings Court English College House.” While not known for its social life like the Quad or newly renovated facilities like Hill College House, Kings Court English College House is what the first years in the Huntsman Program call their home away from home. “Part of the appeal of the Huntsman Program was to be able to have a solid friend group the moment I walked on campus,” Huntsman sophomore Gabriela Garity said. “It was definitely conducive to a tight community, and I became close friends with people that I definitely would not have


Hunstman students value global community in Kings Court English College House

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Unlike other off-campus options, rooms in The Axis do not come with kitchens, and instead consist of a bedroom with a private bathroom. Each apartment comes with a fridge and a microwave. Residents have access to fully equipped, shared kitchens and available meal plans. The Axis has a shared laundry room and a fitness center for residents to use.

Built in 2015, 3737 Chestnut is managed by Korman Residential Properties and located six minutes from campus at 38th and Chestnut streets. This apartment building features in-unit washer and dryer, pet-friendly, community kitchen, fitness center with yoga studio, unlimited black and white printing, and 24-hour concierge.

Rent: One- and two-bedroom apartments starting from $850

Rent: One- to two-bedroom apartments, starting at $2,599 for a one bedroom

Chestnut Hall


Chestnut Hall apartments come with wood plank flooring and walk-in closets in some bedrooms. The apartment building, located on Chestnut Street, has a shared laundry room. Chestnut Hall does not have a fitness center, and is pet friendly, allowing cats and dogs under a monthly pet rent.

Located across from Penn Law at the edge of campus, Domus provides various amenities, including in-unit laundry and stainless steel appliances. Domus also has a community pool, a fitness center, and a clubhouse. It’s also pet-friendly, allowing some dogs and cats for a monthly rent, as well as a deposit and fee.

Rent: $1,426 for a studio apartment to $1,465 for a one-bedroom apartment

Rent: $1,838 for a room in a two-bedroom apartment to $2,865 for a one-bedroom apartment

For sophomores and juniors looking at offcampus housing for next year, there are a variety of popular options, ranging from studio apartments to Victorian townhouses KOMAL PATEL & ISABELA BAGHDADY Staff Reporter & Contributing Reporter

Hamilton Court

The Chestnut

Located on 39th Street, HamCo has a pool and fitness center for residents. The building has a shared laundry room as opposed to in-unit laundry.

Located on 3720 Chestnut St., the 29-story complex was built in 2020 and houses 405 units as well as a variety of common areas, including a rooftop pool and sky lounge. A six-minute walk to campus, the Chestnut features a co-working space, game room, fitness center, green space, 24/7 concierge, petfriendly policies, and in-unit washers and dryers.

Rent: $1,159 for a room in a five-bedroom apartment to $1,945 a month for a one-bedroom apartment

Rent: Studio and one- to two-bedroom apartments, starting at $2,200 for a studio

A popular off-campus apartment complex for students, the Radian is located across from New College House West. The Radian provides in-unit laundry and a fully equipped kitchen. The Radian also has a fitness center for residents, as well as a gameroom and an outdoor dining area. Rent: $1,309 for a room in a four-bedroom apartment to $2,500 for a one bedroom PHOTOS BY BORNA SAEEDNIA, GARY LIN, ERIC ZENG, SAMANTHA TURNER, ZIHAN CHEN, MAYA PRATT, MAX MESTER, EMMA BLUM

The Simon The Simon at Founder’s Row, located on 41st Street, is owned and managed by Campus Apartments. Built in 2018, the Simon houses 23 apartments located four minutes from campus. The apartment building features a fitness center, Amazon Hub, fully furnished rooms, in-unit washer and dryer, and keyless entry. Rent: three- to five-bedroom apartments, starting from $1,200 per person

Campus Apartments Campus Apartments rents a wide range of properties to Penn students, from apartments to town houses. Despite a slight decrease in occupancy rates for the 2021-2022 academic year after 2020's increase, Campus Apartments continues to see a rising trend in students opting for off-campus housing since the onset of the pandemic, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Campus Apartments Miles H. Orth III wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. Campus Apartments also manages University City Associates, another provider of off-campus properties. Campus Apartments rents studios, multi-bedroom apartments, and houses with up to 17 bedrooms primarily west of campus. Rent varies depending on location and the number of bedrooms. While amenities vary by property, many properties are pet friendly and offer 24-hour emergency maintenance, shuttle services, on-site laundry, outdoor space, all while in close proximity to Penn's campus.

University City Housing Founded in 1967, University City Housing rents over 80 properties near Penn’s campus. While leasing was slower at the start of the pandemic, University City Housing is currently at 95.5% occupancy, Senior Operations Manager for University City Housing Bill Groves said. In addition to the pandemic, the introduction of Penn’s new housing requirement for sophomores has affected the housing market in University City, as nearly one-fifth of the usual undergraduate population seeking off-campus housing is no longer looking to lease, Grove said. Rental rates for University City Housing have remained relatively flat over the past year and vary across properties, he added. Rent for properties between 41st and 45th streets starts at $550 per bedroom, Groves said. University City Housing leases studios and one- to four-bedroom apartments, as well as Victorian townhouses with five to 13 bedrooms. All properties have hardwood floors, high-speed internet, on-site laundry services, and are located in close proximity to restaurants, parks, and laundromats.

University Realty University Realty operates four properties near campus, including a new five-story apartment complex on 42nd and Ludlow streets that opened in 2020. University Realty rents one- to three-bedroom apartments across their four Penn properties. Depending on the location, apartments feature modern, full-size kitchens, 24-hour video surveillance, fitness centers, free shuttle service, garages, and a free flat screen television.



The Radian




3737 Chestnut


A guide to offcampus housing at Penn

The Axis


Large houses available for groups of any size.



Call today to schedule a tour.






Caroline’s Queries | Penn’s housing system sorts students by stereotypes. With randomized housing, we can both remedy this and promote College House spirit.


walks of life. Befriending people that have the same hobbies, worldview, or academic majors is important, but just as important is engaging with people that expand your views and interests. Random college housing accomplishes just that, diminishing stereotypes and sparking new friendships. That said, I don’t think that Penn’s infrastructure is built for a completely randomized college housing system. At Harvard and Yale, all college houses have roughly the same number of undergraduates, and each has its own dining hall and activity rooms. At Penn, not every house is created equal. Harnwell College House has several times as many students as Hill. Stouffer College House students walk five minutes to the 1920 Commons, whereas Kings Court English College House students enjoy an in-house dining hall. Du Bois College House and Penn’s various Program Communities are examples of housing geared towards students with certain backgrounds and interests, and they are central to making students feel welcome at Penn. Thus, they should not be randomized without careful consideration. Even so, I want the option to live somewhere without falling into a stereotype. This year, the closest anyone can get to achieving that is

moving into New College House West, since no one’s lived there yet. But soon enough, NCHW will be populated with its own unique clique of students, fragmenting Penn’s community further. A long-term solution to this problem could be allowing Penn students to opt out of ranking rooms altogether, sorting a student or group of students into random houses before the rest of selection begins. If enough students were randomly assigned, each college house would grow more diverse as a result. Similarly, Penn could conduct randomized college housing for first years only, who normally occupy a smaller subset of the houses anyway, and would benefit the most from meeting a wide variety of Penn personalities. Penn students deserve to meet peers that come from all kinds of backgrounds, and Penn’s college housing has the opportunity to create this environment. Going forward, Penn should seize it. CAROLINE MAGDOLEN is a College and Engineering first-year student studying systems engineering & environmental science from New York City. Her email address is magdolen@sas. upenn.edu.


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fter spending a few months here, I’ve grown to love Kings Court English College House, my college house. I enjoy a larger dorm room than my peers at Hill College House and it never gets too loud in the hallways, which can’t always be said for the Quad. My podmates are amazing, and I am eager to share a suite with them next year. But while I highly recommend Kings Court English College House to incoming first years, I can’t help wondering: what if I had gone somewhere else? If you asked me last year, I would have said that Penn’s College House system was better than Yale’s or Harvard’s, where students are sorted into random college houses in their first and sophomore years, respectively. Now, I’m not so sure. Though my friends and I have varied academic interests, we all identify as introverted. I’ve met a lot of people here, but I am only good friends with a handful of them. Though this can all be attributed to the ongoing pandemic, I also wonder if we’re playing into the Kings Court English College House stereotype of shy students that form tight-knit friend groups. Would I have grown more outgoing this term if I had gone to the Quad instead, where students threw parties this term? Or would I have been socially isolated if I had gone to the high rises, with a lower firstyear population and apartment-style housing? The inconsistency in Penn’s college housing system, combined with the freedom Penn students have to choose their housing, has led to college houses that are unrepresentative of the Penn student body and frequently stereotyped. There would be no stereotypes if college houses were randomized, because students would have no say in choosing their house. Each college house could become a microcosm of the greater Penn community, encouraging discussions across majors, socioeconomic backgrounds, personality types, and cultures. But is it the responsibility of our college houses to play this role, or to honor student living preferences? It’s an open question. There is much to be gained from randomized college housing. Consider college house spirit. On Housing Day, the day that first years at Harvard receive their assignments, upperclassmen usually celebrate by waving flags, screaming house chants, and visiting dorms dressed in house-themed costumes. Yale colleges participate in the Tyng Cup, where students compete against each other in intramural sports. It’s unexpected that such strong, tight-knit communities can grow from a completely arbitrary selection process, but that’s exactly what happens. At Penn, I’ve never seen anyone throw a party upon getting into any of our College Houses (yes, even New College House West). You also learn to be more accepting and respectful when living with people from different


Using random housing assignments to build a stronger community




Take your time to learn your housing options Cloobeck’s Call | Finding housing can be hard at first, so here’s some advice and resources to make your process easier


hoosing housing is not easy, and it’s OK to feel overwhelmed making plans so far into the future. During my first year at Penn, I was allergic to uncertainty, so figuring out secondyear housing was an intimidating prospect. At the time, I was living in Ware College House during the mold scare that led to some students being relocated. My parents implored me to find an off-campus apartment for the next year as soon as possible. I am lucky to have lived in a popular off-campus apartment complex for the last three years, yet it has come with its fair share of personal challenges. I had the privilege and family resources to live solo. While liberating, living alone can feel just as isolating, especially last year, when all my classes were virtual. I’ll admit that I had to go home a couple times because the isolation was a burden on my mental health. For advice, I would first encourage you to ask questions and explore your options. Look things up online! Ask older friends and family for guidance and roommate recommendations. For oncampus housing, check out the living options page of the Penn Residential Services website. For offcampus options, a couple helpful-looking resources I found include Penn’s Off-Campus Housing Website — featuring rent listings and a roommate finder — and BestColleges.com's Student Renter’s Guide, which outlines helpful pro/con lists and questions to ask landlords. I would dissuade you from rushing into a lease without knowing what to ask a landlord/leasing office. I would also be mindful that leasing offices are incentivized to create a sense of urgency and scarcity in marketing their product to prospective tenants. Urgency and scarcity may activate our fear of missing out, and I would discourage fear from being the primary motivator of any housing decision. As for when is the best time to sign a lease, that is up to you and when you find a place that fits your needs and your budget. Rushing into a lease for one person may feel like standard procedure for someone else. I'd recommend signing in the late fall or early winter if you find a place that works for you, but I'm no expert on the topic. I also recommend touring the space before you sign a lease if you are able to. Treat exploring housing options as you would visiting a professor’s office hours: coming prepared with questions so you can make the most of your time. For instance, what kind of living arrangement would you like? Would you enjoy living alone so you have time to recharge solo, or would you prefer social interac-


tion in your living space? If you decide to live with others, how many others? There are pros and cons to both living arrangements, yet I recognize that some people have more financial privilege in this decision calculus compared to others. In my situation, I think I occasionally feel unfulfilled living alone because I am an ambivert (in between an introvert and extrovert) who decided to live alone sophomore year because I did know anyone well enough yet to commit to living with them. With my junior and senior years disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to stay put rather than take a gamble on a new housing arrangement. Personally, a part of me regrets my risk aversion and wishes I had invested more time in searching for potential roommates. Some advice if you’re looking for roommates yet don’t know where to start: Muster the courage to talk to people about it! Message friends in group chats or on social media. Be specific about what you’re looking for. The only way people will know you’re looking for roommates is if you tell them! As for living with people you don’t know beforehand, it seems like a wild card. You can mitigate the risk by asking questions about each other’s living habits, which will give you a better understanding of the other person. However, you may not realize someone's unexpected strengths and habits that are your pet peeves until you start living with them. If there are any other stakeholders — such as parents or guardians – that play a role in your living arrangement, then be sure to consult these people before you sign a lease. They may also have valuable insight about how renting works. I invite you to imagine your ideal living ar-

rangement. Where are you? Are you overlooking the city in a High Rise or enjoying an off-campus townhouse? Is the place pre-furnished, or did you customize the place with your own furniture? If you have one, is the kitchen full of people or are you the master chef? What on-campus buildings or off-campus amenities do you live near? I prioritized living near the Platt Performing Arts House, a grocery store, and a pharmacy, which worked out well for me! Do you live solo, with friends, or with new people? When you wake up in the morning and return in the evenings, what do you want to experience? All of these questions and more are worth exploring in more depth. There is no one single formula to make a good housing decision. Just know that people and resources are here for you (including from The Daily Pennsylvanian) to make your decision easier. I understand that housing can feel like high stakes and that whatever decision you make will determine the quality of your next year at Penn, yet I think this kind of all-or-nothing thinking rarely comes true. We can take the long view and realize that we can change where we live from year to year if we realize something doesn't feel right. We cannot predict everything about a living arrangement, and it is okay to accept that you can't control everything. I wish you luck! JADEN CLOOBECK is a College senior studying psychology from Laguna Beach, Calif. His email address is jaden@ sas.upenn.edu.


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Allison’s Attitude | More programming and engagement through college housing could make our experiences so much better


residential college system, where all students are equally provided with an opportunity to feel integrated into a community, Penn’s first-year housing seems arbitrary and unfair. The Quad houses nearly 1,500 students, and KCECH houses roughly 350 students. It’s just inevitable that the sheer number of students in the Quad facilitates a more fun, dynamic first-year experience. Issues with housing and a sense of community are not only limited to the first-year experience. Upperclassman housing and four-year housing often lack sufficient tools and University support to build stronger bonds with people beyond a suite or floor. Penn’s residential programs such as Benjamin Franklin Scholars in Hill, Huntsman in KCECH, and other interest-based Program Communities reflect an attempt by the University to foster and maintain community but do not go far enough. Many of these communities are only for first years, and few opportunities exist for upperclassmen.

The reality is that most students in college are always open to making new friends at any point during their undergraduate career. Penn should make it a priority to facilitate opportunities for creating strong relationships for all students during their first year and beyond irrespective of their housing assignment. If you find yourself struggling with feeling that your college house is not your home, it’s not the end of the world: Penn has more than 450 student-run organizations that facilitate strong communities within the vast student body. But, it would be beneficial, to say the least, to have a stronger sense of a home away from home too. ALLISON SANTA-CRUZ is a College first year studying philosophy, politics, and economics from Jackson, Miss. Her email address is allisant@sas. upenn.edu.


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efore coming to Penn to start the school year, I had only been on campus twice for very short periods of time. My geographical knowledge consisted solely of the Button, the Dueling Tampons, and the infamous Quad. Thus, when my roommate and I opened our housing results over the summer, we thought we had encountered a mistake. We both frantically texted each other, wondering what even is Kings Court English College House? On our housing form, we had listed the three houses in the Quad as our top three choices, and then filled in the last three spots with Hill, Lauder, and Stouffer. Per every YouTube video we watched, everyone had said the Quad provided the quintessential first-year experience — that’s all we wanted. Though I was disappointed we were not in the Quad, I immediately tried to adopt a positive attitude about KCECH. I told myself, "Dorms are only where people sleep — I’ll have ample opportunities to meet everyone regardless of where my dorm is, and perhaps, there could be a strong community here that I was not aware of." Why wouldn’t Penn strive to provide an equally engaging housing environment for all incoming first years? But as I became more acquainted with KCECH, I realized that my assumption about Penn’s commitment to an engaging first-year experience was incorrect; I was shocked to find that the housing selection process actually was lopsided. While, yes, I still have been to the Quad and met many people who live there, I, along with many other members of the KCECH community, find it very isolating to live here at times. Bordering Chestnut Street, we are physically isolated from the rest of campus. In fact, many peers and I often feel like we are actually off campus. Beyond the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, Penn invests little in creating any other programs for students in KCECH, particularly for those who crave the first-year experience but were denied the opportunity to live in the Quad. Penn needs to work on facilitating a more equitable environment for incoming first years. The transition to college is hard for everyone, but it's even harder for those of us who feel disconnected from the majority of the first-year class. Unlike Yale’s close-knit


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