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Students frustrated with on-campus housing shortage, limited communication from administrators

Some DKU upperclassmen studying abroad in Durham were assigned to dorms in East Campus without prior notice.

<p>Selective living groups Cooper House and Wayne Manor were formerly housed in Crowell Quad. All SLG housing was moved to Edens Quad for the 2021-22 academic year.</p>

Selective living groups Cooper House and Wayne Manor were formerly housed in Crowell Quad. All SLG housing was moved to Edens Quad for the 2021-22 academic year.

Most students living on campus for the 2022-2023 academic year finally have their housing assignments—but many expressed frustration about Housing and Residence Life’s lack of communication.

This year, Duke faces a housing shortage due to the "larger than expected" size of the Class of 2025 and the Class of 2023’s increased desire to remain on campus, according to Dean for Residence Life Deb LoBiondo. On July 21, HRL offered undergraduates the chance to be released from their on-campus housing commitment for the upcoming academic year. This opportunity arose while some waitlisted students were still unassigned to housing.

Jen Wang, a rising senior, is a program director for first-year orientation and is required to move in early. Wang still had not received her housing assignment when the July 21 email was released.

“If I don't know by [my move-in date on Aug. 11], it's not like I can find [off-campus] housing in this limited amount of time,” she said. “The good locations are pretty much already gone.”

To pay her invoice due Aug. 1, Wang needed to coordinate all her payments beforehand, which include tuition, insurance and housing fees.

“I was planning to wait for housing to come out and keep everything together, but that's, like, obviously no longer an option,” Wang said on July 21.

As an international student, Wang must pay service fees in addition to paying the invoice. In China, where she is from, paying multiple times will create “very big of a fuss.”

“It's going to be my last year, I just want a comfy room on campus, have my little space and be able to live with my friends,” she said. “And really make up for that COVID year that I missed. This whole process is very, very disappointing.” 

Sam Carpenter, a rising junior, does not think juniors should have been required to live on campus in the first place.

“I just feel like this is yet another occurrence of Duke being short-sighted and students suffering the consequences,” Carpenter wrote in a message to The Chronicle.

Wang and Carpenter received their housing assignments on Aug. 1. Both are satisfied with their assignments—Carpenter’s room is an additional space that HRL added, which he thinks is a converted study space.

Wang ultimately had to pay service fees for the invoice twice—once without housing, the other time with housing. She said the penalty for missing the Aug. 1 deadline altogether was greater than having to pay service fees twice.

“Regardless, we are paying a bit extra than we should,” Wang wrote in a message to The Chronicle.

Some students benefited from the housing release form, including Hannah Kitakule, a rising junior. She planned to move in with her older sister, who lives in Durham, her senior year. Signing the housing release form allows her to move in this year.

“Whenever I got the email, I was like, ‘oh, my God, like, this is amazing,’” Kitakule said. “Moving off [campus], that’s $12k saved from the room, and then I was able to move my food plan down from B to F.”

Kitakule acknowledged that although living off campus will be slightly inconvenient, “no inconvenience is worth [$12,000] to $14,000.”

As of Aug. 1, “all but maybe 12 [students]” have received housing assignments, according to LoBiondo. As of Aug. 9, LoBiondo does not know the exact number of students who have received assignments.

“Whatever’s left over”: Some DKU juniors and seniors frustrated about living on East Campus 

For the 2022-2023 academic year, Duke Kunshan University first and second year students will not be allowed to study abroad at Duke University due to capacity constraints. Some DKU students studying abroad in Durham were assigned to 300 Swift and “various quads on West Campus,” according to LoBiondo.

However, the “vast majority” of DKU students are being housed in East House and Epworth, both of which are on East Campus, according to Gauruv Parikh, a rising senior.

On June 24, these students also received an email from the Duke Office of DKU Relations about an opportunity to “request an exemption from the program requirement to live in Duke housing in order to live off campus.”

“This exception, if granted, would be made for the Fall 2022 semester only; all Spring 2023 students should expect to be required to live in Duke housing,” the email read.

DKU juniors and seniors received their housing assignments in early August. Bob Zavon, a rising junior at DKU, said that housing assignments were supposed to be released in June. 

“They've just been changing the dates ever since July,” he said. “They just kept pushing it back.”

The Chronicle obtained an Aug. 2 email written on behalf of 82 DKU students who were assigned to dorms on East Campus. The email was addressed to HRL, the Office of DKU Relations and various faculty and staff members.

The students noted that a cornerstone of the DKU exchange program was immersion with Duke students. They cited the Student Affairs website which stated “juniors will reside in their West Campus Quad or other upper-class housing on campus (Hollows, 300 Swift)” and “seniors will live in their Quad, other upper-class housing or off campus.”

“Now we are assigned housing on East Campus, and we have no choice to change our housing. In other words, we are forced to live on East Campus without prior notice. Please explain what happened,” the email read.

According to the email, DKU students living on East were “forced” to select Dining Plan C, which is available to upper-class and 300 Swift Ave Apartment students. 

“We find it a little absurd that on being assigned housing that we did not even choose we are also being mandated to get a dining plan that none of us would like to get and cannot even afford,” the email stated.

The email also stated that payments for the 2022-2023 academic year were due Aug. 1, but housing assignments were received by the end of the day on Aug. 1. No bill had been raised as of Aug. 2.

LoBiondo and Valerie Hausman, associate vice provost in the office of DKU relations, responded to the students in an Aug. 4 email. The reasons for some DKU students being housed on East is because fewer Duke students are studying abroad, more Duke juniors and seniors requested on-campus housing and one of the leased properties used for housing last year is no longer available for undergraduates, according to the email.

The email also stated this is the third academic year during which Duke will welcome DKU students in much higher numbers than anticipated due to COVID-19.

“With all of these factors in play, please bear in mind that full-time Duke students will always have priority over other students in terms of housing assignments, and that not even all Duke students got their preferred housing assignments,” the email read.

The email informed DKU students living on East Campus that they are now able to select from Dining Plans A, B, C, D, E and I. The email also stated that the payment deadline for Duke housing and dining charges only was extended to Sep. 5.

Zavon said that DKU students living on Duke’s campus get “whatever’s left over” of housing every year.

“It kind of feels like we're second-class citizens, honestly, but I'm kind of used to it,” he added.


Katie Tan | Managing Editor

Katie Tan is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

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