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Student Association should not have to handle housing issues

By Thresher Editorial Board     1/21/15 4:36am

At the most recent Student Association meeting, the SA senate discussed legislation guaranteeing on-campus housing for Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps members (see p.1). Supporters argued that the midshipmen’s early-starting, rigorous schedule and service to the nation justified the guarantee. Those in opposition felt on-campus housing was not required for NROTC students to fulfill their training, as it might have been for Emergency Medical Services in-charges to perform their duties. Ultimately, neither side understood the others’ argument, and the two sides could not reach a middle ground, underscoring the fact that cases like these cannot be legislated by the entire student body.

The Thresher believes that, while both those for and against the proposal have valid concerns, the best solution for this and future housing issues is a formalized process that can evaluate requests for guaranteed on-campus housing on a case-by-case basis.

Many students can argue for guaranteed on-campus housing on the basis of providing a service for the Rice community or a tough schedule. A non-scholarship athlete or the University Court Chair could make such a request, claiming that since only one bed would be affected, housing should be guaranteed. To decide between a non-scholarship athlete, a blanket tax organization president, an athlete or a disadvantaged student requires difficult value judgements that should not and cannot be codified into legislation.



Binding legislation guaranteeing housing sets precedent for other small groups to make similar claims on the basis of convenience or service to the campus. Although some individual cases might warrant guaranteed housing, the SA should not make these decisions in the long run.

A standardized system evaluating requests for on-campus housing could account for factors such as schedules, financials and the availability of beds in a given year to result in more objective decisions. This system might give priority to certain groups, such as NROTC members or athletes, but would be open to all students in order to provide an official process for guaranteeing on-campus housing regardless of organizational affiliation.

Currently, the processing and logistics of such requests are unclear. At some colleges, housing requests are left up to the masters, who then must make arbitrary judgments. An official process could take individual student needs into account and provide infrastructure for guaranteed housing requests in future years, whereas SA legislation would set a larger precedent than necessary.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.



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