More junior and senior requests than usual will be granted for release to off-campus housing during the 2020-2021 academic year, according to an email sent out by the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) on Monday, June 29. If requests for off-campus housing are approved, students will receive a 60% refund of their Residential Comprehensive Fee (RCF). The email also noted that juniors and seniors who will not be studying on campus and already have a housing assignment may pull a student of their choice into their vacancy if they notify ResLife by Friday, July 17.
There will be increased cleaning in residential buildings, President Michael Roth ’78 announced in a Zoom webinar Wednesday, July 8, and underclassmen will not live in triples, only singles or doubles.
ResLife will determine how many juniors and seniors will be released to off-campus housing based on the number of students who do not currently have housing assignments. As of Wednesday, July 1, over 150 students across all class years do not have housing assignments, Koerting wrote to The Argus. However, that number is currently in flux as students make their decisions about the fall semester. In previous years, according to Koerting, an estimated 40-60 students usually do not have housing at this time and around 200 students study abroad in the fall.
To request an off-campus housing status, students must fill out a Google Form. ResLife began releasing decisions on a rolling basis on Monday, July 6. As of July 1, 63 students have either requested or been identified as eligible for off-campus status. ResLife will prioritize students whose whole housing unit wants to be moved to off-campus housing and those who do not yet have a housing assignment for off-campus status. If one student in a unit decides after receiving their offer that they will not move off-campus, other students in their unit will not have their offers rescinded.
For students who wish to be pulled into a vacancy, they must be pulled into a class-appropriate space and not have a prior commitment to a program house or community-based living program. For sophomores, class-appropriate housing is singles and doubles in residence halls and program houses. For juniors, class-appropriate housing is apartment style living, Hewitt, and wood frame houses. At least one student must remain in the unit in order to pull other students in; if an entire unit leaves, they cannot designate students to take their place.
ResLife will release a fall housing preference form in the future for students who wish to change their housing from what they selected in April and don’t anticipate being pulled into a housing vacancy.
Students offered off-campus status can find off-campus housing before being released from their current housing assignment.
ResLife does not have any contacts for off-campus housing due to how rarely students are released to off-campus status and therefore will not assist students with finding off-campus housing.
When asked by The Argus if the University has considered how the influx of students released to off-campus housing will impact Middletown residents, Koerting responded that the University hopes that students with off-campus status will respect their Middletown neighbors.
North End Action Team (NEAT) board member Dmitri D’Alessandro advised students moving off-campus not to think of themselves as separate from the Middletown community to begin breaking down the longstanding barriers between Middletown residents and University students. NEAT is a community-based organization that advocates for the interests of Middletown North End residents.
“A single piece of advice I could give is don’t think of yourself as separate,” D’Alessandro said. “It’s easy to be like, ‘Well, I’m not part of this community, I’m essentially transient, only here for a couple of years.’ I think abandoning that kind of mindset is what’s needed for better relations overall.”
While the Woodframes Community Standards Workshop Moodle is specific to on-campus housing, relevant segments about being a responsible neighbor will be shared by ResLife to students released to off-campus housing, according to Koerting.
D’Alessandro also voiced his concerns about the impact many students moving to Middletown would have on the local housing market, both in the short and long term. Once the Connecticut residential eviction moratorium is lifted on August 25th, people unable to pay their rent due to financial hardships from COVID-19 may be evicted with University students quickly occupying newly vacant residences.
“If there’s this influx of students to that housing market, all of a sudden it effectively is like a perfect storm of displacement, not necessarily intentionally on the part of the [University] administration,” D’Alessandro said. “There could be good intentions around trying to mitigate damage that could be done by this influx of students to the housing market, but if the market realities don’t support the good intentions the damage will be done regardless.”
Jocelyn Maeyama can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.