Rachel Susser, BC ’14, was happy to have come out of the spring housing lottery with a corner room in Plimpton Hall all to herself—until this week, when Barnard told her she’d be getting a roommate.
On Wednesday, Barnard Residential Life and Housing sent an email notifying Susser and about 50 other students with Plimpton Hall corner rooms that due to a “higher yield rate, fewer housing cancellations, and a significantly higher number of housing applications,” their larger-than-average singles would be converted to doubles.
The email stated that the students have until Monday morning to find roommates, after which Barnard will assign them roommates from the guaranteed housing waitlist.
Yingtian Yang, BC ’14, was in China when she found out that her Plimpton single would become a double.
“As an international student, I feel so helpless now, since it is so hard for me to get in touch with the whole campus,” Yang said in an email.
Yang had one of the top 60 lottery numbers for rising juniors, as well as the pick of the largest room in her suite. She called the last-minute change to her housing situation unfair and unacceptable, saying it rendered the spring housing lottery a “total waste of time.”
“Why did they give us lottery numbers?” Yang asked. “They can totally just ask us to fill out one form and assign us rooms like to first-year students.”
Barnard College Dean Avis Hinkson said in an email to Spectator that “this was not a solution we came to easily, as we certainly understand the ramifications for our students.”
“We sought alternative solutions before taking these steps—we offered a reprieve on the cancellation fee, and reached out to neighboring institutions to see whether rooms were available elsewhere in the area,” Hinkson said.
The housing office said in its email that Barnard’s residence halls have been filled to capacity, leaving more than 80 students without a housing assignment.
“I have no hard feelings for the people who are on the waitlist who need a place to live, because this isn’t their fault either,” Susser said. “I just wish they had given us more notice.”
This is the second consecutive year that Barnard has faced a housing shortage due to over-enrollment. When the college experienced a higher-than-expected yield rate for the class of 2015 last year, administrators responded by converting several lounges in quad residence halls into four-person rooms.
In an effort to bring enrollment down to manageable levels this year, Barnard admitted only 21 percent of applicants, the lowest admit rate in its history. But the class of 2016 brought a record-high yield rate of nearly 50 percent, exacerbating Barnard’s housing shortage for a second time. In addition to Plimpton corner singles being converted to doubles, some first-year students will once again live in residence hall lounges.
“The number of accepted students is based on data from previous years that we use to predict how many accepted students will enroll, however there are other considerations,” Hinkson said in her email. “Planning for student housing is based on not only the anticipated number of incoming first year students, but also transfer students and returning students in need of housing.”
On Thursday, Hinkson made individual phone calls to the Plimpton students whose singles are being converted into doubles.
“Since the news was obviously upsetting and infuriating for us, she wanted to make it more personal than just the email. She wanted to reach out to us personally to answer any questions we might have,” Susser said. “I understand why the college is doing this, but it doesn’t make it any less hard.”