Like the Rat in a Maze who Says, “Watch me Choose my Own Direction”

March 9th, 2016. 11:45

Whoops. It’s been a while, huh? This semester has kind of kicked me in the ass, plus most of my writing of late has either been for classes or for the ISI (columns coming soon!). That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a little bit of venting about the stupidity that is UNLV’s room selection process.

You see, the housing complex my friends and I all live in is for freshmen only, and as such the room renewal process available to everyone else that lives on campus is unavailable to us. That said, a surprising number of people in on-campus housing don’t renew their rooms and as such must be subjected to the same torment as the rest of us. There are three other housing complexes on campus, none of which are too huge considering a vast majority of UNLV’s students are commuters. First, there’s the Tonopah complex, the first one built and in general the saddest-looking one. It’s comprised of two tall buildings, with three wings total, and the rooms are pretty small. There are only a few singles and triples, with the rest being doubles. Interestingly enough, every room in the complex in which I currently live is a double, but the 8 of us that are National Merit finalists are entitled to a single room with our scholarship, meaning that we just get two of all the furniture pieces in a room that would otherwise house two people. I go to Tonopah every week to play D&D with my group, and I just kind of feel … sad … every time I go there. Plus, it’s smack-dab in the middle of, well, everything, and I really just am not a huge fan of the rooms.

This brings us to the next complex, UCC, which is made up of four buildings: Faiman, B, C, and Hughes. That’s how the alphabet works. Faiman and C are made up of mostly double suites, in which the rooms are smaller still, but they’re connected by a balcony in addition to the bathroom. The balcony’s pretty decent, and each building has a communal kitchen, which of course means I could make bacon anytime I want. There are also a few single rooms done in the style mine is, meaning that I’d ostensibly have two of all the pieces of furniture again, but they’re divided by a wall that’s the height of the average UNLV student, meaning it comes up to my chest. Apart from UCC and Tonopah, there’s the South complex, which is sequestered away on the, well, south side of campus, and it’s even worse than Tonopah. People legitimately get stabbed there, and the whole place reeks of some unidentifiable odor that I highly suspect is a combination of bodily fluids. I’ve never met a single person who lives there and is happy about it.

Which brings us to the crown jewel of UNLV housing, UCC B and Hughes. B and Hughes are comprised of what they call “deluxe single” suites, which are the same size as the other rooms, but are actually designed for one person, meaning that you don’t get two beds, closets, and desks, but rather on one side you get the basic pieces of furniture, and on the other side you have a sitting area with couches, chairs, and end tables. It’s pretty neat, and, naturally, these ones are always the first to go. Given the high demand for these rooms and the possibility that the current residents of said rooms are renewing for next year, you’d think it would be a pretty big deal to make sure everything was in order if you wanted to snag one. And it is.

Unfortunately, as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often get completely destroyed by bureaucracy and idiotic event management.

The whole process of reserving a room for the next year is handled in one fell swoop by an event called the “Priority Room Selection Party”. On paper, it works as follows: the doors to the student union ballroom open at 5pm, and on a first-come, first-serve basis, students are handed tickets with a number on them. When your number is called, you go up to the table that corresponds to the building you wish to live in, check what rooms are available, and put your name on the one you want. Once you do, that room is reserved for you and only you; no one else can get it. As such, you can imagine it’s important to get there on time, probably even early. My RA suggested we get there around 2 or 3pm. Luckily, I knew better.

My friend (we’ll call him “Brett” for the sake of continuity, considering that’s his name) with whom I planned on getting a deluxe single suite in UCC B next year, and I, planned ahead. We each had four classes on Tuesday, the day the event was to take place, and talked to our professors about missing them. Knowing about the scarcity of these rooms, and considering I was also proxying for another friend (the process whereby you also deal with the paperwork for someone who can’t make it to the event and reserve their room for them) who also wanted a single in UCC B, we knew we’d need to get there bright and early to wait in line. So we got there at 8:15 in the morning. And there were already people there.

It wasn’t too bad, though. We were 14th and 15th in line, and had packed enough snacks and entertainment to keep ourselves contented for the 9 hour wait. Brett thought to bring a pillow, and a few hours in I was envying his foresight, but apart from that, all was well. Until it wasn’t.

Y’see, we had been repeatedly told that holding someone’s position in line was a no-no, which was why we made sure to get out of all our classes and arrive at the same time, to be sure that we would be able to sign up for what we needed to, at the same time. We were even reluctant to use the restroom, but sometimes nature calls, and the girl next to us was perfectly fine with us needing to answer. As by-the-book as we were with the rules, apparently others didn’t have as much regard for them.

A girl I passingly know as a friend of a friend was sitting near the front with her boyfriend when we got there, and as the day went on and people filled the line behind us, they kept letting friends sit with them. For the first few hours, we didn’t say anything, assuming (hoping?) they were just visiting, as we’d seen others do. However, by around noon, our position in line had gone from 14 and 15 to 26 and 27. And we were getting angry. Brett had called his parents a few times to vent and console himself as the line in front of us got progressively longer (I looked to the music of Rush for guidance in this time of tribulation), and as he said, we wouldn’t really have cause to be mad about it if it weren’t something as important as where we were ostensibly going to live for the next three years.

The other issue for me was that I didn’t really have a fallback. Brett had a back-up plan to get an apartment set up, but I not only lack the monetary fortitude and the will to make such an expenditure, I’m also entitled to four years of on-campus housing with my scholarship, and it just doesn’t make sense for me not to use it. A representative for the RHA (Residence Hall Association) was to arrive at 3 to enforce the line, but until then it was basically a free-for all. The people around us were getting progressively angry, as were we, at the state of affairs at the front of the line. While those of us a little further down were fairly organized, the front had turned into a massive cluster of people.

Once 3 o’clock rolled around, an RHA representative came down the line looking for a “Brett”. We were confused, but Brett surmised that his mother had called them to complain after one of his phone calls (we later found out that she hadn’t, so we actually don’t know why they came around looking for him). We explained the situation to them, but we didn’t want to be stoolpigeons, and we knew there wasn’t much they could do about it (we kicked ourselves for not thinking to take a picture of the line as it was when we got there), so we were pretty much resigned to our fates. The RHA girl assured us they’d do something about it.

Soon thereafter, they made an announcement that no cutting would be tolerated, and went around giving everyone in line a stamp and a number on their wrist. Now, we were 36 and 37, somehow. The number actually increased by ten after they made the announcement about cutting. The next two hours were spent waiting, and rocking back and forth between anguish and the moderate insanity that comes with sitting in the same place for 7 hours. As if that weren’t enough, the girl and her boyfriend who caused all the issues decided to stand up in line and proceed to become incredibly … intimate … with each other for the duration of the hours preceding the opening of the doors. Literally everyone in line was sickened, but nobody had the balls to say anything to them. (The irony of my desire to yell “get a room” was not lost on me.)

We finally got our wristbands and entered the ballroom where the event was being held, watching with dread as the preceding 35 people in line were called up and went to the tables for the rooms we’d been hoping for. Not all of them went to the table in question, mind you, but many did. When they finally called our numbers, we bolted for the table with as much energy as we could muster for being tired, sore, and subsisting only on potato chips since breakfast at 7:30. There was one suite left, and two single rooms available for Haley, the friend for whom I was proxying. So, despite all of the crap we suffered through, there was a happy ending. Barely.

While it worked out in the end, we still couldn’t help being angry at the way the entire event was handled. As we sat in line, we came up with a myriad of better ways to handle it. Luckily, given that I won’t ever have to do that again (we plan on renewing our rooms the next two times), I’d be more than happy to sit there (in a chair, please, not on the floor) for the duration of the day and make sure no one cuts in line, for a small compensation.

I guess I just can’t fathom how that was the best system they could come up with to handle something this important. Somebody at the top must be really stupid, or just not realize how seriously people take this stuff. There were a total of 100 deluxe singles, all told, and maybe 60% of them were renewed. All of them are full now, of course.

The moral of the story? Bring a pillow.

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