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New RLHS policy draws criticism

A housing loophole that allowed students to escape the three-year on-campus live-in requirement with little consequence has been closed up by Residential Life and Housing Services, but some students are decrying the new policy as unfair.

Students who are kicked out of campus housing for behavioral violations will now be forced to pay the full amount of their housing contract through the end of the academic year.

"If they do something egregious the first day in August, they'll have to pay the whole amount," said RLHS Director Eddie Hull, who is entering his first full year on the job.

Hull justified the change by saying that under the former system, everyone who held a housing contract was made to suffer the indirect cost of their derelict classmates' rent. "People doing something right [were] subsidizing the cost of people doing something wrong," he said.

Even worse, Hull added, sometimes the bad behavior was not even accidental.

"We've heard stories among students who say, 'I want to live off campus. I don't want to meet the three-year live-in requirement, so if I do just enough to get kicked out, maybe I can beat the system,'" he said.

Many students expressed displeasure with the new policy, however, saying it was "unfair" and "excessive" for students to have to pay for both their former on-campus housing and whatever new housing they acquire.

"In a real world situation if you were kicked out of your apartment, they don't make you pay for the remainder of the lease," said senior Katie Halliday.

Junior Rhys Marsh, who was not allowed to live in University housing for his sophomore year because of an incident when he was a freshman, said the policy unnecessarily compounds the difficulty and strain of being forced off campus.

"They're already asking me to do something that will have a huge effect on my life," he said. "Just asking me to take that step [of moving off campus] is enough punishment. [Forcing students to pay the full contract amount] is really rubbing the salt in."

Hull said he understood that point of view but added that "the beautiful thing about this is that [disciplinary violations are] completely avoidable."

Since most students' housing contracts are for the full year, if they are expelled from University housing in the fall semester, they will have to pay for spring semester housing as well.

Marsh called it "crazy" for the University to charge students for housing if their room was going to be used by students in the spring semester anyway. "There's students coming back from abroad and there are transfer students, so they can fill that space," he said. "It sounds to me like a totally inappropriate policy, if there's an opportunity to get that money back without doubly charging."

Colleen Denny, a junior, suggested a compromise.

"Although it seems extreme for kicked-out students to necessarily have to pay through the end of the year, it also doesn't seem fair for them to get off relatively scot-free - I mean, they did sign a housing contract with the school and then break their word," she said. "Maybe the middle ground compromise would just be to assign a set monetary penalty that would have to be paid by all students who lose their housing."

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