As returning students settle in for another school year and freshmen adjust to college life, new housing policies are forcing many to already consider next fall’s living arrangements.
On-campus housing signups will now begin on Oct. 22 and continue through Nov. 3. In the past, the process hadn’t begun until late into the spring semester.
According to Paola Mignone, the associate director of business affairs for Residential Life, many students who choose to move off campus start their search in the fall. She said the decision was in response to general student concerns about stress signing up for housing.
“We’re trying to match the schedule of the decisions to move off campus that students are making,” Mignone said. “This is when students start signing leases, so we want to fit the same timing.”
Students will have until March 10 to cancel their on-campus housing contract. In the past, students had to pay a $200 deposit before registering for housing. This year the registration fee will be waived, but those who choose to cancel their contract before the March deadline will face a $200 cancellation fee. After the deadline, students who cancel must pay room and board in full.
“The important thing is that in terms of a process, it’s going to look exactly like last year,” Mignone said. “In the past we’ve had a date in the summer to cancel. The March 10 date is the same sort of concept, just earlier.”
According to Alex Liu, Student Association (SA) president and a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, the original cancellation deadline was Feb. 1 but was extended after he voiced his concerns with the administration.
“That’s a small victory, bringing the rate of change down a little bit,” Liu said. “Of course last year the deadline was in June, but at least we got another month.”
Only students who decide to study abroad or transfer for the fall semester will be excused from their contract fees after the final March deadline.
Hannah Sommers-Thaler, an undeclared freshman, said that many students have just gotten settled and may not be ready to make such a commitment.
“Everyone is still in the phase of trying to meet even more new people, and housing is a really big decision to make based on only the people I’ve met in the past month,” Sommers-Thaler said.
Between October and March, students who sign up for on-campus housing will have the ability to adjust their arrangements if they change their mind about where they would like to live or with whom they would like to live. The format of this process is not yet finalized, but the hope is that each individual can freely change his or her housing arrangements online at will.
“We are still tweaking exactly how that will work, but since the process is earlier we’re letting students switch themselves before the March deadline,” Mignone said. “The hope is that students will be able to see what’s available and just move themselves.”
Liu said that this would be important for students who may meet new people as the year goes on.
“It will definitely be good for ResLife to stay to their word of allowing students to continue to move around,” he said.
Liu called his personal housing choices traditional, saying he lived on campus his first two years and then moved off-campus. He said that the variety in his housing was important and beneficial.
“It is in the University’s interest to make sure the students are staying on campus for those first two years, and then having the experience of moving off-campus,” Liu said.
Liu also said that he believes the change could pose many social implications for students, especially freshmen who are just adapting to college and making connections.
“There will be people telling their roommates that they don’t want to live with them next year, people choosing roommates and then backing out later, or people feeling uncomfortable about backing out,” Liu said.
According to Andre Khazak, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience, the changes are rushing students into making choices too soon.
“It’s making me need to figure out whether I’m moving off campus earlier than I’d planned,” Khazak said. “It puts unnecessary pressure on the students to make big decisions.”