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SMC students compete for Opus Hall housing

Ashley Charnley | Monday, February 1, 2010

 Opus Hall, the senior, apartment-style housing on Saint Mary’s campus, has been the topic of debate on campus as students voice concerns over the handling of eligibility requirements. 


Due to the limited number of spaces in the building, Residence Life has established requirements for those who apply to live there. 
“It was always contingent upon the six-semester residency requirement — four semesters for transfers — being in good academic and social standing and graduating in May of the year which the student lives in Opus,” Slandah Dieujuste, director of Residence Life, said.
The issue arose this year because Residence Life wanted to clarify what good academic standing meant, and sent an e-mail to the junior class stating there would be minimum GPA requirement of 3.0. However, at the beginning of the spring semester, students were e-mailed that the requirement would no longer be a factor in eligibility. 
“Some students raised concerns about the GPA requirement and the decision was made to postpone this requirement,” Dieujuste said. “It is a requirement that can be reviewed again in the future if students feel strongly about it. We will open it up again in the future for debate.”
Juniors Alison Bennett and Annie Lamb said they were upset because the postponement of the requirement then increases competition for the rooms. 
“In my opinion, Opus is and should be privileged senior housing,” Lamb said. “Unfortunately, because of these changes, my roommate’s and my chances of getting into Opus have severely decreased.”
There are 12 quads and 12 doubles in Opus. According to Dieujuste, there have been 29 applications for doubles and 19 for quads. 
Students said they were disappointed by the way the situation was handled by Residence Life. 
“I personally e-mailed multiple people for an answer as to why the requirement was eliminated, but my e-mails went unanswered,” Lamb said. 
Dieujuste said she tries to listen to student suggestions, and in this situation postponing the decision allowed more time for discussion.
“We try to make changes with students’ input,” Dieujuste said. “It is for this reason the room selection process is being revised. Students sit on the revision committee. We are trying to implement some of the suggestions that we have heard in the past two years since I have been here.”
Bennett said she is disappointed because of the extra effort she has put in to have the opportunity to live in Opus, and now that chance may be taken from her. 
“Since I began my time at Saint Mary’s, I always viewed Opus as privileged housing,” Bennett said. “I worked hard to maintain my GPA and have stayed out of trouble so I would be eligible to live in Opus. However, since the minimum GPA change, my chances of living in Opus have decreased greatly.”
Dieujuste said, however, that Opus is not the only place that holds privileges for seniors.
“Those who do not get into Opus may find Annunciata Hall to be a wonderful option,” she said. “This is a senior-only floor with a newly built kitchen.” 
Annunciata Hall is located on the top floor of Holy Cross Hall. 
Opus room selection will take place Wednesday and is done by public lottery in Stapleton Lounge in Le Mans Hall, according to the e-mail sent out earlier in the year. 
 “Saint Mary’s hasn’t handled the situation well at all and it’s a shame, but hopefully we get lucky,” Lamb said.