The housing crunch must be solved

by Beacon Staff • March 26, 2008

Emerson's regrettable lack of housing

Our View:

School must be more mindful of students' living conditions,It's rare that a school establishes a tough-love policy, one that's unpopular but, ultimately, has the best interests of the student body in mind. That's why it's so refreshing to see such a mentality in action. This week, just across the river, Harvard University announced that it would not accept transfer students for the next two academic years, in an attempt to deal with a student housing shortage.

The decision comes after an announcement last month that the university would also be accepting fewer students to make sure all incoming freshmen were provided housing.

While the move is sure to infuriate would-be transfers, many of whom already sent in their applications and spent money retaking the SATs, according to The Harvard Crimson, the policy is one that should be considered by Emerson as it deals with a far worse housing crunch.

According to David Haden, Emerson's director of Housing and Residence Life, the college houses 1,438 students, less than half of its 3,100 undergraduates.

On top of that, 142 of these students are living in either the DoubleTree Hotel or Courtyard Marriott, a move that leaves the college to cover an undisclosed difference between the $11,376 each student pays for room and board and the cost of the hotel rooms.

From the students who would like to remain on campus but are shuffled off by the lottery system, to the transfers who are not guaranteed housing, to those who lose part of the college experience because they live in isolated hotel rooms where doors cannot be propped open, it is clear that Emerson has to get serious about accommodating those students who want housing.

This is why arguably extreme measures like Harvard's must be considered. We are consistently admitting more students than we can house and, most worrisome of all, Haden acknowledged, in the Sept. 11 2007 issue of The Beacon, that the hotels will probably have to be utilized again next year. Accepting fewer students, or pressing the pause button on transfers, might be more than sensible-it might be necessary.

While the administration continues to remind students that in 2009 we will have the Paramount Center and the Colonial Building, even then our dorm capacity will not rival Harvard, which houses 99 percent of its students. According to the Nov. 30, 2006 issue of The Beacon, Vice President of Public Affairs David Rosen said the college aims to house only 70 percent of Emerson students by 2010.

It has been said that, in an effort to puff up its reputation, Emerson has been taking cues from the big name schools around Boston. Here's hoping they continue that trend and copy this latest decision by the holy grail of higher education.