The Undergraduate Council of Students hosted a roundtable talk Wednesday to discuss recent changes to the housing lottery. UCS members began the meeting by discussing concerns over off-campus housing for juniors.
Sarah Frank ’25, secretary of UCS, voiced concern that juniors would find out their off-campus status too late in the new housing process.
“It becomes very difficult for anyone who wants to move off campus to not know until the last minute,” she said.
Diego Bermudez ’24 said that he will be living in an off-campus residence next year with current sophomores and that “a lot of them are scared” of not getting off-campus permission, “even though they’ve signed the lease and put down the deposit.”
Mina Sarmas ’24, vice president of UCS, pushed back against these concerns and said that before last year’s housing lottery, it was already difficult for juniors to obtain off-campus permission. She added that she was not sure expanding off-campus access for juniors should be a priority due to the University’s relationship with the Providence community.
“We haven’t been shown to have the most positive effect by having so many people live off campus,” she said.
Frank added that an increase in students living off-campus could contribute to gentrification around College Hill. She said that additional students living off-campus could add noise and garbage and pose affordable housing challenges for the surrounding community.
Sarmas brought up the new senior housing timeline, previously reported by The Herald, which will take place from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4. She said that she hopes moving the senior lottery to the fall semester would clarify the junior housing timeline, since the number of juniors able to go off-campus would be determined by the number of on-campus seniors.
She added that students taking leave and studying abroad would be exempt from the fees the Office of Residential Life is imposing on students who change their on-campus status after the deadline. A cancellation fee will be charged to rising seniors who change their minds about living on campus between the Jan. 31 deadline and April 30. The cancellation fee will be 50% of the fall room rate — approximately $2,342, The Herald previously reported. Students will have to pay the semester’s entire room and board cost — approximately $4,684 — as a cancellation fee after April 30 and until the end of August.
UCS members also discussed concerns over students abusing Student Accessibility Service to gain accommodations they would not otherwise need.
There “was a campus discussion about people abusing the SAS system” and how it was not fair “to people who actually need accommodations … and for everyone else who isn’t gaming the system,” Frank said.
Frank proposed that SAS should make it clear that a certain percentage of accommodation applications will be checked to minimize the number of students who submit fake doctors notes as part of their applications.
Anaya Kaul ’25, treasurer of UCS, referenced an article from The Herald regarding gender inclusive housing where most incoming first-years who applied for the housing preference did not receive it.
Looking forward, Sarmas proposed that UCS create a form for students to find roommates to mitigate stress in the housing process.
UCS will also send out a residential life and on-campus experience poll to students by Friday and conduct polls around campus next week.
The next town hall meeting will be held next Wednesday, Oct. 12 and will feature representatives from ResLife for students to ask questions.
Kaitlyn Torres is the senior editor of community for The Brown Daily Herald's 133rd Editorial Board. She previously covered diversity as a University News section editor. In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys listening to The Arctic Monkeys and going on archaeological digs.