Housing selection as a student entitlement
New York City is a place heralded for its various neighborhoods, a compilation of differing traditions and legacies, neighborhoods and populations, which have in turn shaped one another as they have grown and changed over the years. Today The King’s College on-campus housing system is spread across three distinct neighborhoods: Midtown, the Financial District and Brooklyn Heights. Each of the King's housing locations comes with its own set of special pleasures, as well as its own set of special traditions and surrounding cultures. The Financial District never sleeps--except on weekends and after the close of markets. Midtown is a constant wave of events, elaborate spectacles, Times Square and yes, tourists. And Brooklyn Heights is an eclectic, vibrant and, as its residents will testify, beautiful neighborhood (not to mention a flourishing economy).
Housing placement at King's, as we all know, is done without general participatory voting. The average student has no say in choosing the building where he or she will reside while on campus, and therefore no say in the costs and culture they will incur and encounter. Students have no say in the amount of time it takes to complete transit to and from campus, and no say as to whether or not they prefer the vibrancy of one neighborhood on the edge of the Island over the daily hustle of Wall Street, or the well-beaten walkways off of Times Square.
To adequately place this notion in perspective one must compare the required $112 monthly MetroCard fee to a complimentary breakfast (or free laundry, for that matter). A 20 minute hectic commute to a five minute stroll. The reliance on public transportation to the newly remodeled facilities in the heart of the world’s financial market. The quiet of the Financial District at night to the busy flurry of activity available to students in Midtown. Ultimately, one must consider the broad extent of "on-campus" housing.
This is not to say that one campus housing site is necessarily preferable over another. Each location comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and each student’s opinion as to which location is best is will vary. But if we are all to pay an equal amount in terms of housing fees, we deserve a say in choosing our respective housing site.
The simplest way to divide the housing sites into student selections would be to offer different prices based on the location itself. If one location costs the school more than another (even if only slightly more), then the prices should be higher for students residing in that location compared to the price of residing in a location that costs the school less (even if only slightly less). The simple preference of each rational and individual utility curve would allow students a greater ability to live on campus in a manner that best suits their needs.
There is of course the consideration of House unity in the grouping of various Houses into a specific locale. Yet who is to say that assigning Houses specific locations is the best method of ensuring such unity? One need only to consider the House loyalty of those individuals no longer living in campus apartments (mainly upperclassmen) to know that physical distance between House members does not translate to distance between bonds.
Fraternity systems, operating in a fashion similar to that which I have proposed, are able to retain the bonds of Freshman initiates without placing them in the Fraternal building. As students grow closer to their Fraternal brothers and sisters, many choose to move in together, having not been placed together as Freshman. Just as time forms bonds between Houses and students who live off-campus, time forms bonds between Houses and their new members beginning Freshman year.
As students of The King’s College, our education is exceptional in that it is based on the principles of free markets and the goods therein. Why then should we not apply these same principles to selecting from the various housing locations offered at King's? It's time to put these principles to the test and trust that the ties among Houses will remain strong, and perhaps grow exponentially as a result.