Excess off-campus housing demand enforces lottery policy

On Monday evening, the Office of Student Life e-mailed the Class of 2014 and Class of 2015 and their parents regarding Student Life’s off-campus housing policy for seniors. The e-mail reminded students of the current cap of 120 seniors who are allowed to live off-campus in a single year. The e-mail further reiterated  that these students are not “released” to live off campus until the end of their junior year via the off-campus housing process. The e-mail emphasized that if the number of applicants for off-campus housing in a given class exceeds 120 students, applicants will be entered into a lottery in which all applicants will have an equal opportunity of being selected.

While the e-mail did not announce changes to Student Life’s policies, it was sent to clarify the off-campus housing process as this year was the first time in almost a decade that the number of student applicants for off-campus housing has exceeded the cap. “I’ve been here for nine years, and I don’t think we’ve ever had to run a true lottery,” said Doug Schiazza, director of the Office of Student Life.

The lottery will not give preference to students who sign leases prior to the lottery, and the College will not assume any of the financial or legal risk of defaulted leases. Many parents and students have recently questioned the College’s policy toward off-campus housing, but the e-mail emphasized the importance of living on campus to building a stronger College community.

“We have reached out to students, parents and landlords,” Schiazza said. “In the past, there was something called a pre-lease.” The e-mail explained that pre-leases allow students to be released from a rental agreement if they are not approved to live off campus. The College is hoping to encourage local landlords to adopt pre-lease policies that would reduce the financial risk of students signing leases prior to the fall of their junior year.

Under current policies, students who are not selected for off-campus housing must forfeit their leases regardless of the existence of a pre-lease clause.