Thumbnail image by Olivia Abeyta / North by Northwestern

Many students have already decided where they will be living next year through last month’s housing-selection process. However, some students face additional challenges when it comes to housing.

For students participating in programs off campus, such as Medill on the Hill (MOTH) or Bay Area Immersion Program, they are required to cancel their housing contract for the quarter they won’t be on campus. This means that they reapply for housing and are assigned to a room, based on availability, when they return. Further, students going to similar off-campus programs during winter quarter are moving in and out multiple times in a year.

“It’s really hard to expect students to pack up their lives that many times in a year and adjust to it,”  said Medill first-year Elleiana Green, who will be participating in MOTH this upcoming fall.

Medill second-year Liam Hubbard spent this past winter quarter in San Francisco for the Bay Area Immersion Program. Before he left, he was living in Foster-Walker Complex. During the program, he said his new dorm was to be 1838 Chicago.

Hubbard was able to move into another room in Plex after speaking with housing, but not without the added stress of moving repeatedly in a single academic year.

“It worked out pretty well for me, but I definitely think it’s a really poor system,” he said.  

On top of the stress students face with their on-campus housing, some students are also worried about off-campus housing costs for the programs they participate in.

“Going to D.C. is going to heighten my financial circumstances, and that worries me a lot, so right now I’m just trying to figure out how I can afford that,” Green said.

Medill’s two ASG senators drafted and proposed legislation to mitigate some of these issues after hearing and experiencing the students' struggles with regard to housing for these programs.

This legislation proposes an affordable fee to allow students to keep their room during the quarter in which they are gone, if not reserve it for free, similar to how sororities and fraternities have options to pay a reservation fee to keep a dorm.

“This obviously causes a lot of psychological distress for both the person going on the program, as well as their roommates whose room could just get filled with another person,” said Lily Ogburn, a Medill first-year and an ASG senator for the school. “What we’re trying to do is make it so students have their original housing assignment when they return to campus afterwards.”

While this legislation would be specific to MOTH, Ogburn and her co-senator, Luis Castaneda, hope to use it as a stepping stone for further change.

“We started off more broadly, actually, in terms of who this legislation would apply to. We were seeking reservations for all study abroad students,” Castaneda said.

Luis Castaneda has previously contributed to NBN.