Squatting > Reimert Lottery

Ava Compagnoni (avcompagnoni@ursinus.edu)

Many current Ursinus students are unfamiliar with the practice of ‘squatting,’ which used to be an important part of yearly housing selection. ‘Squatting’ a house or suite meant that if one person lived there one year, they could guarantee that suite for all 8 people during the housing process for the next academic year. This process was changed by Residence Life because it was seen as an “inequitable process,” as stated by Alyssa Cafferelli-Murphy, Director of Res Life, due to the way it distributed housing opportunities across the student body. The last year students could squat suites in Reimert was in 2019 for the 2019-2020 academic year. A year later, 2020 was the last year students could squat Main Street houses for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Ursinus has a rich history involving athletics and Greek Life. Reimert suites were known to be affiliated with certain organizations, and it would go without saying where specific sports teams, fraternities or sororities would live. Since squatting was removed as a housing option two years ago, suites have been passed around from one organization to another. With each passing year, history and significance is lost under a fresh coat of paint. 

For legacy students who have parents and older siblings who are UC alum, opportunities to live in the same organization suite as their relatives were damaged by the removal of squatting. Prior to the squatting removal, some organizations had held their suites for 30+ years without an issue. Mason Banks, junior and current brother of Alpha Phi Epsilon (APES), was supposed to follow in his brother’s footsteps. “During the housing process last year, APES was intending on selecting 310 in the Reimert lottery. We have had that suite for tens of years and it was taken by another organization. I was supposed to live in the room my brother lived in his junior year several years ago,” explained Banks. Doors and common rooms are allowed to be painted by the students who live in the suite, which made 310 even more desirable. “My brother was one of the guys who painted the mural, he graduated in 2017 and they just repainted it this academic year. He would always tell me amazing stories about him and the guys, I wish I could say the same,” Banks went on. 

Alyssa Caffarelli-Murphy says that there have been positive effects of the end of squatting: “Since stopping the squatting process, some groups have come and gone in Reimert…some students are feeling less pressure to keep a space based on tradition and are making housing selection choices that better suit their own success and needs.”

But Reimert suites are more than just four walls to organizations and athletics. They are home.