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Reslife mulls hiring staffer for off-campus students

By Lindsay Vacek
On November 21, 2006

The Office of Residence Life may hire a full-time staffer to assist students living off campus and will collaborate with the Student Union on an off-campus housing guide, ResLife officials said. Director of Residence Life Richard DeCapua said the University might create the new position in anticipation of more students living off campus.

There will be 109 fewer beds for students to occupy when Ridgewood closes for demolition in May. Associate Director for Campus Living Jeremy Leiferman said the University currently houses 86 to 87 percent of its undergraduate students on campus, and that percentage will drop dramatically after Ridgewood is demolished.

DeCapua said the new staff position would likely remain permanent to help the University alleviate general concerns over tight housing.

"It makes sense to always have such a position," DeCapua said. "People are always looking for places off-campus."

However, the administration is still unclear about the details of the position. "[The position] has no set salary or job description yet," DeCapua said. "It's kind of a rumor at this point."

Leiferman said resources under the current staff structure are limited, restricting ResLife's focus to on-campus housing. Currently, ResLife only offers general information on off-campus living, such as rent payment schedules and lease information.

"Our services are limited in people, power and funding," Leiferman said. "We can't offer it all to every student."

ResLife officials spoke about the impending housing shortage at the Nov. 14 Student Union Senate meeting, and the Union agreed to collaborate with ResLife on an off-campus housing guide.

Coordinator of Graduate Students Jessica Basile said housing is a source of continuous stress for graduate students and staff.

"Housing is certainly one of the main problematic issues that graduate students have," Basile wrote in an e-mail to the Justice.

Basile said the graduate departments are particularly concerned about the loss of bed space in Ridgewood. Residence Life usually offers about 100 beds to graduates each year-usually international students-but may divert these spaces to undergraduates while Ridgewood is under construction.

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management and the International Business School direct some staff support toward off-campus living, but the Graduate School for Arts and Sciences does not, and there is currently no staff position in any of these schools devoted to off-campus housing. Additionally, GSAS is the only department that does not guarantee housing to its students.

Basile said she has frequently been approached with the question of hiring an off-campus liaison.

"[A liaison] would be very helpful to both graduate students and staff at the graduate schools," Basile said.

According to DeCapua and Leiferman, ResLife officials do not know whether the graduate or undergraduate bodies will lose more housing.

Several Union members will work with ResLife staff to assemble a guide outlining the logistics of off-campus living. Although the project is in its initial stages of development and its goals are under discussion, East Quad Senator Jessica Blumberg '09 said she hopes the guide will serve as a "real-estate guide for students."

"This guide would help students be more aware of what is available to rent, how much it would cost per month, [and] what amenities the house or apartment has," Blumberg said.

DeCapua expressed enthusiasm over the collaboration with the Union and discussion of the potential staff position.

"I think doing the two things at once would be a nice thing in the interim until the position gets filled," he said.

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