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2008 Fall Issue 6 (October 31, 2008)

Fewer students going abroad leads to housing crunch for Winter Term

October 31, 2008
By Cristina Sainati

This winter there is a potential housing shortage at Carleton due to lower than expected Off-Campus Study (OCS) participation. In January, 200 students will return to campus that were not here during the fall while around 70 students will leave. The situation is exacerbated because Carleton is already in “expanded housing” said Steve Wisener, director of Residential Life. That means, for example, that rooms that are built on the verge of being doubles or triples are being used as triples right now.

As a result, ResLife will consider placing students in the empty hall director apartments in Nourse and Evans, renting apartments in town, and/or housing students in dorm lounges. If students were put in lounges, ResLife would use the campus lounges that are already similar dorm rooms, not the ones with the huge windows like in Burton. In general, “Carleton has been really supportive [of ResLife’s situation],” said Wisener. “No one says ‘that’s a ResLife problem.’ We are all in this together. I’m in meetings with everyone constantly.” Wisener said he has gotten a lot of support from the academics who are helping him push for and create more Off-Campus Study opportunities. Due to the Beijing seminar in the spring, the housing situation should be okay by then, said Wisener.

OCS numbers have been a challenge to ResLife’s job in the past as well. Last winter four OCS programs left from Carleton. There are three this winter, and six expected next winter year. While OCS sets its programming schedule as far as two years in advance, the number of students on campus still differs each winter. More students typically go off campus in the Fall because of how the tri-master system fits into the quarter and semester system at other colleges. This puts some stress on ResLife to maintain the housing equilibrium. Ideally ResLife would be at 1-2% vacancy so that students could have the option of changing rooms if they had to for personal situations, so ResLife could be energy efficient in the use of the buildings, and so ResLife could minimize the cost of room and board. OCS has tried to and will continue to try to increase the number of Carleton sponsored winter programs so that the tri-master schedule becomes less of an issue.

While the financial crisis will not effect ResLife via OCS, it may effect OCS. In the future as a result of the current financial crisis, OCS may see a rise in student participation as oppose to Carleton students choosing non-Carleton study abroad programs, says Helena Kaufman, OCS director. Carleton programs, which cost only as much as one term at the school, are generally cheaper than non-Carleton programs. Also, because of the financial crisis students might put more emphasis on airfare prices and exchange rates when they are choosing where to study abroad, says Kaufman. Recently airplane ticket prices have gone down and the euro has become weaker next to the dollar. However despite the lower prices with the financial crisis, students may not be willing to spend as much money, so the effects of the crisis are still unknown, say Kaufman. 71% of the class of 2008 studied abroad at least once and Kaufman does not expect to see too much of a drop in the number of students who go off campus is the near future. “If you can attend Carleton, then you can go off campus, it’s never been a privileged group that can go,” says Kaufman. OCS is such “a part of being here” that she believes that the financial aid will stay in-tact despite the crisis.

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