With off-campus housing rates at an all-time high, Yale administrators have been taking steps to encourage students to remain on campus.
According to Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, the rising off-campus rates are a source of concern for the administration, as off-campus housing rates have been ticking up steadily over the past five to six years. According to a Yale College Council report commissioned by University administrators, roughly 17 percent of undergraduates currently live off campus, about one and a half times as many as Yale expects each year.
Holloway said that University administrators have made an effort to determine why an increasing number of students are moving off campus, carrying out multiple surveys among the student body. And Holloway said that one of the reasons the University implemented a relatively easy process for transferring to the new residential colleges was to pull back to campus people who had already moved off or keep on campus those who were considering moving off.
“We do want our students on campus, we think campus is a very special experience and want them to enjoy it,” Holloway said. “The residential colleges are incredibly important … and they really help separate the Yale college experience from that of other colleges.”
Holloway added that administrators believe on-campus students generally eat better than off-campus students and have “better well-being.”
Students interviewed cited a number of reasons for living off campus, including dissatisfaction with the dining hall service as well as the opportunity to better separate school and home environments.
“We pay a lot of money for the meal plan, and I usually walk into the dining halls just to realize I don’t want to eat anything that’s being served,” said Katherine Brumberg ’19, a Trumbull student who will live off campus next year. “I also want to have a space to call my own, with more flexibility in terms of decorating, cleaning and more.”
Awa Franklin ’19, who is also planning to live off campus in the fall, said one of the main reasons for her housing decision was the opportunity to have her own kitchen.
And Christian Rice ’18 said that in addition to offering a space away from campus, off-campus housing allowed him to save money.
“One of the things that is most prevalent are claims about the cost of room and board,” Holloway said. “[We] have been exploring all these different ways to move the balance of tuition and board around and have held costs flat and things like that. We don’t see it making a single dent in people’s decision.”
Still, Rice noted that managing his finances was tougher than expected, given that he had to pay $700 a month for rent and services such as electricity and Wi-Fi access, as well as groceries.
Holloway also said the stock of available apartments has increased drastically over the past few years, contributing significantly to rising off-campus housing rates. The general safety of New Haven has also improved, he said.
Another reason why students may choose to live off campus, Holloway said, is that they fear being surveilled because of alcohol consumption.
“We have worked very hard to make clear that our concern is student health and safety, we are not trying to surveil students to get them into trouble, we just want them to be safe,” he said. “But we couldn’t get around the rumor mill, ‘If I’m 19 and my friend is really drunk, and we’re together and I call this in, I’m going to get in trouble.’”
According to Paul Mckinley, director of strategic communications for Yale College, up until 1998 students were able to move off campus after their freshman year, as opposed to after sophomore year. However, then-Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead ’68 GRD ’72 changed the policy because he wanted students who lived on Old Campus during their freshman year to experience the residential colleges for at least a year before they decided whether to move off campus, Mckinley said.
Students were required to submit their housing plans for the 2017-18 academic year to the Yale Housing Office by March 22.