Students frustrated with new housing policy

by Xakota Espinoza / Beacon Staff • February 2, 2011

After two years of living in a dorm room, Olivia Eaton said she hopes to settle into a studio apartment in Cambridge next year, finally living on her own.

But chances are that won’t happen. Starting with students admitted for the fall of 2009, the college’s housing policy requires Emersonians to live on-campus through their junior year.

Last week Amanda Turnley, the college’s housing operations coordinator, said last week the school now requires students to live on campus longer in order to fill its 1,935 beds. Depending on how many freshmen and sophomores move in next year, she said, some juniors will be permitted to live off campus. Turnley said rising juniors can apply to move off campus and will be selected via a lottery system.

For the $12,881 per year the college charges students to live and eat on campus, Eaton said she would rather live in an apartment on her own.

While the information regarding the new policy was public to the class of 2013 prior to admittance, Eaton said she was not aware of it until she received the information in her mailbox.

“I’m not gonna pay the money for something I can get for cheaper and better somewhere else,” the first-semester junior said. “Because of the cost of housing at Emerson I’ve been looking at single apartments which would be cheaper than living in a double or triple dorm room. I have friends who live on Commonwealth who pay the same amount as I do, which is ridiculous.”

For freshman Lindsey Train, part of the allure of Emerson was getting to live in the city of Boston.

“Part of the reason I chose to come to Emerson was to experience the city of Boston,” the journalism major said. “Learning to maintain a home is a vital part of ones’ college experience; I want a place to call my own.”

At nearby schools like Boston University and Suffolk University, students can move off campus sophomore year or earlier, according to offcials at those universities.

Boston University has a similar policy to Suffolk, though they require freshman to live on campus and have the accommodations to house 11,500 students, roughly 35 percent of their entire student population, Marc Robillard, BU’s director of housing, said in an e-mail.

Suffolk University operates their housing on a first-come, first-served basis, with on-campus housing optional for only freshman and sophomores, with no mandatory requirements in place. According to an e-mail from Jeff Morris, ambassador of off-campus housing at Suffolk, only 25 percent of students live on campus.

Derek Anderson, a junior at Suffolk University who transferred from Emerson after his freshman year, said Emerson’s new requirement is unfair, considering the $12,881 room and board cost.

“[By] junior year you become a lot more independent from school, and being forced to live on campus would kind of mess with that vibe,” he said. “It’s a way of keeping students paying the school instead of landlords.”

Prospective students have taken notice as well, stating that housing requirements play a somewhat significant role in choosing which college to attend.  Dylan Stein, a high school senior considering going to Emerson, said housing is a legitimate factor in his search for the ideal school, and sees the three-year requirement as a turn-off.

“There’s a good chance this could significantly impact my decision. I wouldn’t want to live on campus for three years,” said the prospective film major. “My sister goes to BU, and she moved out of the dorms her sophomore year. I would want to look to live off campus and branch away.”