Archive for April, 2011

Incoming Students with Medical Needs

There’s a lot of pay attention to in all of the information you will be receiving from the University.  If you are a new first year student in particular, please be aware that if you have any special needs, including the need for Air Conditioning, due to a medical condition, contact the Learning Needs and Assessment Office and ask for Debbie Berkeley.  Debbie is wonderful to work with.  Her office telephone number is 434-243-5180.   We will do everything we can to accommodate your son or daughter’s medical needs.

It’s important to note that not all of the first year housing options are air conditioned.  The entire McCormick Road Area complex is unairconditioned as are the remaining suite style buildings in the Alderman Road Area (Courtenay, Fizhugh, Dunglison and Dunnington).  In these buildings we do not allow in-room or window air conditioner units to be installed.  We now have plenty of air conditioned space in the new buildings in Alderman Road and the Gooch/Dillard Complex for any and all medical needs.  Hereford and Brown Colleges are also air conditioned.  The first year space in the IRC is not air conditioned and is the only space where we will install a window AC unit.  If your son or daughter will be living there and has a medical need, again, contact Debbie, and we will have the staff from Facilities Management install a window AC unit, that you have to provide.  The cost for this is $100 for the labor of the installation.

When you have a medical need, you will be assigned to a space that meets your need.  In the past, students and parents have at times tried to use this as an way to try to work the system… For a couple of years, word of mouth suggested that this was how to get into Kellogg, when it was the newest building in Alderman Road.  Please discourage rumors like that if you hear them.  It doesn’t work that way.  It’s not a secret way to manipulate the system.

We want you to be comfortable and successful here as students, please don’t worry about asking for facilities that meet your medical needs.  This is an area where there is a lot of pollen that comes from the surrounding forests.  If you have allergies, please ask for a building with central air conditioning.

First Year Housing Program Choices

For first year students at UVa there are really 2 main choices – you can select to a part of the random selection process for the areas of housing that are reserved exclusively for first year students or you can apply to be in one of the three Residential College programs.

The Areas that are exclusively for first year students include:  Alderman Road, Gooch/Dillar and McCormick Road.  Over 96% of the first year class will live in these three areas.  If you select these as your preference, you are not given the ability to select a location within those three areas.  The University’s intent is to give everyone as diverse an experience as possible, by randomly distributing the first year class members in these areas.  You and another student can preference each other as roommates and/or you can preference a double or single room.   Beyond that we don’t make exceptions for people to be assigned to a particular complex because of any other reason you or your parents might want to choose to consider to be necessary for you…..   (We do get a lot of calls from parents who want

their children to live where they did when they were here…. or, the most common call is based on wanting to believe that being 5 minutes closer to or farther from the center of grounds will cripple someone’s ability to participate in a program or activity.   We operate by different rules than were in place a generation ago.  What normally happens is that no matter where you live, when you meet the other new students, and make friends, wherever you have been assigned ends up being the “best place.”  All of these areas are on the same bus line, so you can wait at any of the bus stops and get off at the same destinations….. it isn’t really an obstacle and the difference in distances are less than 1/2 mile either way at most… )

Single Rooms.  With the addition of the Gooch/Dillard complex to first year housing, there are now many single rooms to choose from.  There are close to 600 single rooms for first year students in Gooch/Dillard and there are a small number of stairwell single rooms in the McCormick Road Complex (almost all are female rooms in McCormick).

The Gooch/Dillard complex is mostly 6 person suites with 6 single rooms in it.  In this setting, you will find that you are able to do a couple of things that are important to many students -have some privacy and the ability to control your own schedule, but still be part of a close-knit, small group of other first year students.  This complex has had first year students in it for the past 2 years and has been a popular option.  The complex also has 615 first year students total, with all of the buildings focused around an interior courtyard.  There are also a small number of double rooms in the complex.

This year we are anticipating that we will need to create some triple rooms for first year students.  I’ll explain the tripling/detripling process later in the summer if/when that becomes a reality.  Today I just wanted to note that if we have triples we will use these large, double rooms in Gooch/Dillard as triple room spaces.  If we have more than these (14) spaces, we will also triple the front room in the suites of the remaining suite style buildings in Alderman Road.

The McCormick Road halls are double rooms with a scattering of stairwell single rooms — no air conditioning…..  very popular because of their location.

The Alderman Road area is the site of a lot of change.  We are in the process of demolishing the older, suite style buildings that were constructed during the ’60-’70s.  Two buildings were knocked down 2 years ago and 4 are going down this summer.  Three new buildings that are hallway style with double rooms will have been finished by Fall to replace these.  the Echols, Rodman and University Scholars programs will be housed in the 2 buildings that are opening this year.  1/2 of the space in those buildings is reserved for these programs.  That will mean that we will still have 4 remaining suite style buildings (un-airconditioned) and 5 new or newer hallways style buildings (air conditioned and with elevators).

The other program choice available to First Year Students are the three Residential Colleges.  These programs are Brown, Hereford and the International Residential College.  Please visit the web sites for these three programs for more detailed information.  In general they are non-academic colleges, set up to provide a comfortable, knowable, kind of community living group within the larger University community.  Each as a self-governing student structure, a Faculty member that lives in the community and who serves as the “Principal” and a number of faculty members who serve as “Fellows”.  Each College also has a Director or Coordinator of Studies position or positions that work with the Principal, the students and the fellows to create the programs and activities of the community.  Each group has a general kind of theme that has been selected by the students.  Hereford College is focused on issues related to sustainability,  The International Residential College is focused on International issues (it is not segregated housing for international students) and Brown College looks for and focuses on creativity and individual expression.  Inn each of the colleges, 20% of the space is reserved for first year students.  The other 80% of the space is for upperclass students.  Since these areas are considered upperclass housing students accepted as first year students can remain in them throughout their undergraduate career and do not have to leave at the end of their first year.

There aren’t any bad options or choices.  Please don’t worry so much about where you will live.  When you get here and move in, making friends and developing relationships  is what will make your experience, not the location…

Roommate Choice

How do you choose a roommate for your first year in college?  Who should you live with?  Is it better to live with a friend from home, to do an extensive and exhaustive search on facebook to find the right person?  Should I take a chance and go with a person that is randomly assigned by the software used for match roommates?  How can I insure that I have the best roommate possible?   There’s always the full range of questions and for some, stress, related to the choice of a roommate.

The three kinds of roommate you can have are: 1) someone that you already have a relationship with  2) someone that you meet on-line and choose to live with and 3) a randomly assigned roommate…   The research on roommate matching shows or demonstrates that there is no statistically significant difference between the success rate of any of these 3 options.  What does that mean?  It means that no matter who you work with, to be successful, just like any other relationship, it’s going to require that you work at it and that you be willing to get to know, understand and work cooperatively with another person.  If you are too stubborn or too used to getting your own way to compromise, living with a best friend may not be any better than living with a complete stranger – The problem won’t be the other person.  I have students tell me – I’ve had a bad roommate every year.  I would love to tell them that I’m sure that their roommates would all also agree with that statement….  1/2 of all of the marriages in this country fail… and you can’t create a more intense vetting/decision making process than that.  It takes 2 people who are willing to talk with each other, to respect and respond to each other, to be willing to take risks and talk to each other to work through conflicts….   That’s why the University of Virginia feels strongly about the random assignment process.  We want you, for this one year, if no other, to live with people that are different from you and to learn to negotiate for your needs and to take the needs of others into account.  For your long term personal happiness and success, this may be the most important learning experience you might have in College.

My real advice is that you need to do what you feel most comfortable with.  I hope that you are open to the excitement/experience of living with a randomly chosen roommate.  If you do feel/believe that you would be happiest living with a friend, please do that.  You each need to preference each other on your application.  My only caution is that you will change a lot during your first semester and year in college.  Living with someone who knows you as you are now and expects you to continue to be that way can cause a strain in the friendship.  You can also each live with other roommates but still be able to hang out with each other – and each become a part of the other’s new network.  You can always have the benefits of having friends that live nearby without having to be roommates with them.   There is also nothing wrong with living with someone you’ve selected from a social media connection.  It’s also a healthy thing to go into the roommate relationship as something that you have chosen for yourself.  Hopefully, that will make it easier for you to stick it out and work through conflicts (that will arise).

I am trying to hit a balance here between covering this topic and beating it to death.  To repeat my main  message – don’t worry to much, what ever path you choose to take- the results are about the same….  You can’t make a wrong choice if you do what you feel fits best for you personally.  (If you feel that a single room would be best for you, that is also an option.)  In the process of development every group or relationship goes through the same general stages.  Those stages are characterized as “Forming”, “Storming”, “Norming” and “Performing”…   What that means is that there will initially be a honeymoon kind of period where you are both excited about all the new things and life here in general.. You’ll be willing to put up with lots of things and laugh them off.  As time passes, you will get busier with work and the pressure you face will build and suddenly you will cross into the “storming” stage….. now the coming home and turning on the lights after you’re in bed, or the clothes all over the floor —you name it, will suddenly make you angry and resentful….  In order for you and your roommate to ever get to the next stage, you have to confront and work out your difference -and get to the point where you can develop “Norms”, or standards for behavior that you both understand and can live with.   If you can’t do that, you’re done…  One person will take over the room, the other will hang out elsewhere and just come home to sleep…. or one of you will silently seeth with anger, mentally noting each insensitive, careless, thoughtless thing the other does and it will add up until you dream about doing bad things to the other —-  For your age group and most people, it is hard and does take a bit of courage.  If you don’t a least let your roomate know when things are bothering you, then you aren’t giving the roommate the chance to change.  It’s always heartbreaking to see people suffer silently -and make lots of bad assumptions about the other person -when the other person has no reason to know that their behavior is a problem…..  You need to speak up and make sure that you give the other person the same consideration that you would like.  Hard at first, but easier as you get practice -and then completely easy as you find out that your roommate isn’t such a bad person….   Once you get to the final -performing stage then your roomate can really be a source of support and the synergy of your relationship will help both of you persist and become successful here….  It takes work to make it work, no matter who your roommate is……

more tomorrow.

Welcome and Congratulations Class of 2015!

I send a long p0sting to the Admissions blog yesterday.  If you are here, I hope that your search for information started there.

Deadlines are always important to keep track of – I’ll start this year’s information for you – by clearly stating that the deadline to apply for housing is Friday, June 3rd.  We accept all applications beyond that, but to be included in the initial/main selection process for the first year class, that is the date to keep in mind.

There is no advantage to applying early.  All of the applications are treated the same and first year students are assigned using a random process.  When you get to the on-line application you will see that you have several choices.  We have three complexes that are exclusively used to provide housing for first year students.  These three complexes or “Areas” include: Alderman Road, Gooch/Dillard and McCormick Road.  In these 3 you cannot request a preference and your room location will be randomly assigned.  You and another student can request each other as roommates, and we will place you together, but the room location is randomly selected.   In all over 96% of the first year class will live in these three complexes.  The other 3 options that you can choose from are the three residential colleges.  I will write about these in more detail in other postings.  These communities have 20% of their space reserved for first year students.  The rest of the space is filled by upperclass students.  These “Colleges” are social communities with a unifying theme chosen by the students who have lived in them.  They have a faculty member who serves as a Principal and they have faculty members who participate in the program with the residents.  Hereford College is focused on Sustainability and does not require a separate application.  To apply, simply check the box in the application indicating your interest.  Brown College focuses on individuality and creativity.  The International Residential College is a community focused on International Issues – it is not segregated housing for International Students.  The ratio of international to domestic students is about 30/70….  There are separate applications for both Brown and the IRC that you must also complete by the deadline.  Students in those communities make the decisions about wh0 is accepted.

We are still working on closing now, but I will continue with a daily entry covering the kinds of questions we normally receive from the incoming class (and from parents).

Again, Welcome and Congratulations!  We are looking forward to your joining our community.

Graduation Housing

If you are graduating, you should have received information from the Conference Services Office of the Housing Division.  Having your family members stay in on-Grounds housing for graduation is an affordable alternative to the premium priced, 3 day minimum charged at most local hotels -if space is even available.  Please go to the Conference Services web site  at for information.

Closing Information

The end of the Spring Semester is almost here…. It will be here before you know it.  If you don’t take a few minutes to plan your departure, it will catch you by surprise.  Life is busy with paper, projects and all of the end of year things that are made possible by the nicer weather.  We always end up with a couple of students who haven’t made any plans for leaving…  We also end up with students who just don’t want to leave… 

All of the information related to closing (which is on Saturday, May 14, at 12:00 noon)is now posted on the Housing Division web page.  Please take a few minutes to review it.  Your RA will be contacting you about closing meetings that they will all be scheduling.  Please attend.  Invest in being on top of things so that you won’t suffer any undue stress unnecessarily.  

Closing is simple —-  Plan how you will get home so that you can leave when you are finished with your finals….  Make travel arrangements now, if you haven’t already.  If you are from not too far away – plan a quick trip home to take a load of stuff.  Somehow your things will have multiplied since the beginning of the year and the vehicle you packed to come last August may not hold everything you have now.  Plan to clean your room/apartment before you leave.  If there has been damage, have everyone in your room/suite/apartment complete the on-line damage form to have the appropriate people accept responsibility.  Get a key envelope from your RA and make sure to turn in your keys when you leave.

If you are graduating or have to stay beyond closing, look at the LATE STAY section of the web page.  It details who is eligible to be considered.  I won’t list that information here…  Please look closely at this information.  We have many facilities that will not be available for late stays due to renovation projects and demolitions this summer….  Parts of Lambeth, Gooch/Dillard and buildings in  Alderman Road will not be available..  If you are making beach week plans before graduation, it’s important to note what the options are for where you live… and make plans that include those limitations…

To be able to be considered to stay beyond closing, you must go to the Late Stay application on-line and submit your reason/need.  Please do not apply if you don’t meet the criteria.  We occasionally get students who want to stay based on personal convenience…  If your summer sublet or lease doesn’t start until later, we can’t help you with that.  If you have a job that you want to sign up for extra shifts to earn more money before you leave town, we also  can’t extend your stay for that.  As University housing, we can only provide housing during the term of your enrollment and the exceptions we can make for graduation related activities are clearly defined and limited.

It’s supposed to be over 80 degrees today – enjoy the weather, but don’t let it distract you from everything else.


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