The setback of the Singleton, Hitch and Maida Houses construction has caused a delay in the housing lottery. Construction was postponed as a result of the Pennsylvania stay-at-home orders. (Evelyn Siao/B&W Staff)

Fall housing lottery delay causes uncertainty

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The housing lottery has been postponed due to on-campus construction delays, slowing down the selection process for incoming sophomores in fall 2020. 

Ozzie Breiner, director of Housing Services, said the housing selection is not able to be conducted during the final exam period, and students should expect the lottery to resume shortly after the conclusion of the spring semester. 

The Singleton, Hitch and Maida Houses, currently under construction, were expected to house 405 students when they were planned to open in the fall. 

As instructed by Gov. Tom Wolf, Lehigh was forced to pause all construction on March 19 to implement social distancing regulations, in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus. This has halted progress on the new dorm buildings. 

The timeline for the resumption of construction is uncertain — it is unclear how much of the residences will be completed before students return to campus. 

Housing Services has begun preparations for three possible scenarios: The complex will be completed in full for August move-in; some buildings will be completed, allowing for partial occupancy; or, the complex will not be complete until January 2021. 

Housing Services is creating several contingency plans to ensure that all students who desire an on-campus residence will be able to have one. In an email sent to incoming sophomores entering the lottery, Housing Services explained that all available spaces will be filled, and Trembley Park may be used for another year. Trembley was originally supposed to be demolished this summer.

Before they begin the housing lottery for incoming sophomores, Breiner emphasized the need for the university to determine what space will be available. 

“Everyone’s going to be somewhere,” he said. 

Open space in SouthSide Commons could be transformed to house additional students, as well. 

Eleanor Christman, ‘23, said she was surprised to hear the lottery has been delayed. Though unconcerned for now, she said she would prefer to know what her housing situation will be.

“I expected to have an idea as to where I’m living next year,” Christman said.  

Marilyn Gao, ‘23, also expressed a desire to know what housing will be available. 

“I’m just anxious to see where I’m going to live,” she said. 

Christina D’Aversa, associate director of Housing Services, is working on the updated housing timeline and the informational materials intended to inform students on the housing process.

The department intends to hold information sessions via Zoom and Facebook Live to replace the previously planned on-campus sessions to educate incoming sophomores on the housing process and what to expect when the lottery eventually resumes, D’Aversa said.  

 “We don’t only want to release the dates, but also explain the process,” she said.

Since Lehigh requires all students to live on campus for their first two years, all incoming sophomores will be guaranteed housing, and all upperclassmen who have already chosen their housing will remain there, Breiner said.

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