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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

On-campus JBS not solution to housing problems

Published: March 12, 2010
Section: Editorials

When the Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS) was first suggested last year, there were more than a few skeptics. Were students going to bite? Were they going to take this opportunity to either earn extra credit during the summer and graduate early or to pay less tuition and live off-campus? Despite these concerns, the university decided to go ahead with the program in order to gain more tuition revenue and to reduce overcrowding on campus by freeing up beds by kicking students off-campus for a semester or getting them out of here a year early.

So we were confused when, in an effort to make the Environmental Field Semester JBS more appealing to students, the program’s manager decided to allow participating students to live on-campus. Sure, the fall JBS is still a great opportunity to get involved in a different style of learning, but the change in policy ignores the initial intent of the program.

Given that the Curriculum and Academic Restructuring and Steering Committee pitched this as a solution to housing shortages on campus, it just does not make sense to have an exception to that rule. If this is not working, what is the next step?

While students are at Brandeis, they are here, they need somewhere to live, and JBS is no longer fixing the problem of overcrowding. Brandeis needs a new solution.

We suggest building more housing. Yes, the campus is packed with buildings as it is, but three-story dorms obviously are not doing the trick. While the renovation of the Charles River Dorms to make more students want to live on-campus is a step in the right direction, the university needs to think seriously about constructing student housing options that have more rooms. If there is no land available, why not replace old buildings with taller ones?

While some students will be able to live off-campus when push comes to shove, others must live on-campus to keep their full financial aid package. Brandeis cannot fill that need and ensure that every student who wants to or needs to live on-campus unless JBS students live off-campus, or the university builds more housing.