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Students navigate off-campus housing policy

Students frustrated with lack of off-campus permission, often feel pressure to sign leases

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Many students face pressure from landlords to sign leases before the University grants off-campus permission.

Two weeks ago, the Office of Residential Life closed its application period for students who wish to live off-campus for the 2018-19 academic year.

Normally, off-campus permission is granted to seniors and some juniors, who receive permission through a lottery system, according to the Residential Life website. But according to some students living off campus, the application process was a hassle.

The process of trying to coordinate a large housing group and find potential leases before the October application deadline “is stress-inducing,” said Julia Kiely ’20. “Frankly, it’s inconvenient.”

Many students looking to live off-campus face pressure from their landlords to sign leases before off-campus permissions are granted. As a result, some sign their leases before receiving notice from ResLife.

Justin Champeau ’19, who currently lives off-campus, said he signed a lease for an off-campus residence without previously receiving permission to do so. Though he eventually received the confirmation, he said that he “jumped into this decision without even thinking of the potential administrative issues” because he felt that the mental health benefits of living off campus outweighed potential problems.

“I do not think it’s fair that the University can set quotas on how many people live on campus and how many people live off campus,” he added.

The application process is “logistically, very annoying,” said Ilan Bigio ’20. The lottery system “feels like Brown is trying to dissuade you from applying to live off campus,” he added.

Kate Tompkins, associate director of programs for ResLife, said that signing a lease before the date of confirmation to live off-campus does not guarantee a student permission. Some students may receive confirmation after a second wave of permissions or through an appeals process, but ResLife cannot make individual exceptions to that policy, she added. “There have been years where students legally lock themselves into a lease and are also responsible for living on campus,” Tompkins said.

When deciding which students to grant off-campus permission to, Tompkins said the system to selectively allow students to live off-campus is a University policy. “That’s a much larger conversation that is much further outside of this office,” Tompkins said.

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