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As in previous years, an on-campus housing crunch has forced several groups of students to start the fall semester living in lounges or kitchens converted to dorm rooms. Given this situation, some might be wondering why more students are not living off campus. Although the Office of Residential Life and the off-campus permission process have faced criticism lately, it's important to recognize that the issue is more complicated than one might expect.  

This year's overflow does not appear to be the direct result of too few students being allowed to live off-campus. The Herald reported last week that approximately 40 upperclassmen initially planned to move out of the dorms but later changed their minds. Additionally, Senior Associate Dean of Residential and Dining Services Richard Bova told the editorial page board that 116 additional students were granted off-campus permission over the summer but decided instead to stay in the residence halls. Factor in ResLife's commitment to make on-campus housing available for all undergraduates, and the result is that some students are temporarily forced into suboptimal arrangements.

We support ResLife's policy of guaranteeing the availability of on-campus housing, which crucially provides students with a sense of stability and security. And we think the office generally shows a lot of patience for individuals making last-minute plans regarding off-campus housing, leaves of absence or study abroad. Nonetheless, our hope is that both staff and students alike continue to try to prevent hectic months in August and September.  

ResLife should look to streamline the off-campus permission process and notify students about the status of their request earlier during the previous year. An off-campus apartment can be difficult to arrange for those who receive permission while they are away from Providence over the summer. Similarly, upperclassmen should make a concerted effort to finalize plans as soon as possible. Although ResLife provides an on-campus "safety net," those who take advantage of it just before the year starts are probably inconveniencing a group of sophomores. 

Of course, we sympathize greatly with those who are starting the year in converted kitchens or lounges. In past years, ResLife has been able to move most of the students living in temporary spaces into traditional rooms. Still, the prospect of a mid-semester move is no doubt stressful, and the University must go the distance to make sure that these students are living comfortably now and can transition smoothly when the time comes.  

Recently, there has also been discussion of a dorm construction project. President Ruth Simmons mentioned the expansion of student residence halls as one of her priorities in last year's State of Brown address, and Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn told the editorial page board that the push for a long-term solution continues to be an area of focus for the administration. We are eager to watch these plans move forward.  

Finally, it's worth noting that students already have a lot of input into Brown's housing policies. The Residential Council advises ResLife on housing issues, and we encourage anyone with good ideas for improving housing at Brown to get involved.  

Editorials are written by The Herald's editorial page board. Send comments to



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