Last spring, I and the other sophomores planning on going abroad during spring semester were told to think hard about our choice. To help us think, we all had to attend a meeting in Cleveland 151, which to my knowledge is reserved for scary mandatory meetings and the class "Death." There, Residential Life, the Off-Campus Study Office and assorted others made a convincing case for switching semesters.

They made no promises, but dangled better housing, easier course registration and maybe even shorter lines at Moulton for those willing to switch to studying abroad in the fall. But no one bit, and we all settled for forced triples, lame classes and eating bagged lunches alone in our rooms. There was a mentality that we had made our beds, and now we would have to lie in them, very close to our roommates. There was even a tad of guilt for subjecting the classes below us to poor housing.

At the time these feelings made sense. We are a tiny school that seems to ebb and flow with whatever crop of 1,700 students happens to be attending the school. But now, with all but 10—or reportedly seven—extra students deciding to forgo a semester abroad, and stay on campus for the spring term, there is still going to be a shortage of housing and the same group of juniors competing for classes. ResLife has sent out e-mails to those living in forced triples to inform them that there is a chance they would stay that way.

This is both disappointing and scary for those who are losing their third forced roommate to a semester abroad in the spring. Not only will they not have a normal Brunswick Apartment double for the spring, but there is also the possibility of a new roommate, complete with that fresh "I was just abroad and therefore am hipper and more exotic than you" scent.

If there are now about equal numbers going abroad in the fall and spring semesters, then how can the group of juniors studying abroad in the spring still be responsible for this housing crunch? I think the College was wrong to think of the now-dilapidated fall group as 45 more students, and should have considered them instead as 45 fewer students here in the spring.

The difference is the 45 students are not considered to be imposing a burden for being there, but as granting a luxury when they leave. Because really, there could be 470-something juniors on campus if we had felt like being really annoying.

What would happen if even more people drop out? It seems that Bowdoin relies on a certain number of students going abroad; otherwise there will always be a housing crunch. Is the real issue that not enough students are studying off campus this year?

I realized that I do not know how the number of students studying abroad differs this year from the past, but it seems that there is actually just not enough room for the number of juniors on campus, regardless of when they are studying away. If this is true, and the problem is not the uneven numbers of others going abroad, but instead, that not enough people are off-campus, the forced housing does not seem as voluntary, and therefore not as fair as it once did.

I felt bad for the students not going abroad who were subjected to poor housing supposedly due to my decision to go abroad in the spring, but now I also feel for the students returning from their semesters off-campus, only to return to the same forced housing they thought they avoided. And equally long lines at Moulton.

I understand that there are fluctuations every year that makes making predictions difficult, but hopefully this year can be a lesson. Whatever the issue is, I hope that the College and Reslife can look at this year and then to the future, and hopefully avoid a situation like the one we are currently in, which I am sure has been as painful for them as it has been for me.

Daisy Mariscal is a member of the Class of 2011.