The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Home, home on the Range

LAST TUESDAY Student Council passed "A Resolution Recommending the Creation of a Range Community." The resolution's endorsers hope to see the Range, single-student rooms running parallel to the Lawn behind the gardens, transformed into a housing area similar to the Lawn in its philosophy and purpose.

Fostering a sense of community among neighbors is an admirable goal, but the proposed method for achieving this goal is flawed. A greater community feeling can be created not by making the Range selection process competitive, but by opening up the housing option to a broader group of students.

The current requirements to live in a Range room are to be a graduate student, and to have attended the University in previous years. This means some of the students living on the Range attended the University as undergraduate students, and others are beyond their first year of graduate school. Students only are allowed to occupy a Range room for one academic year.

According to the Housing Division Web site, a Range room only includes, "a bed, desk, wardrobe, bookcase, rocking chair, blinds on the windows," and a fireplace. "No air conditioning, kitchen, computer rooms or study lounges are available," the site continues. There are bathrooms available, but, like the Lawn's bathrooms, they are outside. The West Range has one women's and one unisex bathroom, while the East Range has a women's bathroom at one end and a men's bathroom at the other. Getting to any of the bathrooms requires braving the elements.

Overall, Lawn and Range rooms come equipped with the same furniture and residents face the same restrictions. The cost is equivalent as well, as both Lawn and Range residents pay $2,860 rent for one academic year.

The problem is, though, that the Range is not as desirable a place to live as the Lawn. Fourth-year students living on the Lawn step out of their rooms into the heart of the Academical Village, complete with the Rotunda, the Pavilions and a flurry of student activity. The view for Range residents is not as breathtaking. East Range residents look out to the old Medical School parking lot, while West Range residents are blessed with McCormick Road and tons of construction outside their doors. The only thing the Range has to offer is location.

Now Council is trying to add prestige to the Range's short list of offerings. Although the plan is not yet fully developed, adopting an application process similar to the ones used for Brown College and Hereford Residential College is being considered. By simply making it an honor to live on the Range and selecting residents through a more strenuous application process, the proposal's supporters hope to develop this Range community. Or, at the very least, have students occupy all 54 rooms.

Maybe this scheme would have the intended effect if Range rooms were designated for undergraduate students. The plan, though, is faulty for graduate students. Graduate students often have a tougher academic workload than undergraduates, and many hold part time jobs to help fund their education. As a result, graduate students overall are less involved with University activities and organizations, which typically cater to an undergraduate crowd to begin with. Being in the middle of the action is not as much of a priority for graduates as it is for undergraduates.

Additionally, graduate students already have been in college and experienced dorm life. They have paid their dues. Some take time off before returning to school. Many are accustomed to living in apartments and houses that come equipped with at least a kitchen and an indoor bathroom. Granted, most graduate students do not live in the lap of luxury, but moving into an un-air conditioned, bathroomless Range room is a step down for many.

There is a belief at the University that designating something as an honor automatically makes it desirable. There is truth behind this statement. Take an example from the University Guide Service. At most other schools, students are paid to give tours. Here the University gets a free service out of students who view being a member of UGS as a privilege.

This plan, though, doesn't always hold. Students wishing to live in Hereford must fill out an application that includes basic background information and four short essays. It is similar in format to the one used by Brown College. The difference is, Hereford has empty rooms each year, while Brown College turns away many of its applicants. Creating an application to live in Hereford doesn't make any more students want to live there.

Those advocating the development of a Range community should be commended for being proactive in tackling what they perceive to be a problem. Rather than making the Range prestigious, however, they should consider allowing a broader group of students to take up residency there. The Range should become open to all graduate students, regardless of their number of years of study here. Any additional spots could be assigned to undergraduate upperclassmen, or even those denied a Lawn room. Only by increasing the range of the Range will a real community spring forward.

(Stephanie Batten's column appears Tuesdays in The Cavalier Daily.

She can be reached at sbatten@

cavalierdaily.com.)

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