Petition to change off-campus housing policy circulating Vanderbilt


Hunter Long

Kirkland Hall houses Vanderbilt administration. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Sam Zern, Editor in Chief

A petition started earlier today is gaining traction on campus, with over 300 signatures in two hours. The petition asks that the university change the housing policies to allow more students the opportunity to live off campus.

According to Vanderbilt’s 2018-19 off-campus housing general information, roughly 300 students will be authorized to live off campus, and any students currently residing off campus will have to reapply. Students already living off campus who reapply by the deadline are given first priority, followed by rising seniors who apply by the deadline. Students who plan to study abroad or take an internship outside of Davidson County during Fall 2018 are not eligible for off campus housing and will be required to live on campus when they return in the spring.

According to the petition, new housing policies reduced the number of new students who will be authorized to live off campus. The author of the petition says that the sudden change is inequitable, and that requiring more seniors than usual to remain on campus despite new dorm construction is in contrast with the practices in recent years.

The petition also cites the cost of living on campus as a point of contention, saying that students who live off campus would be able to save around $1000. Additionally, the petition says that while it supports the mission of Vanderbilt’s Living Learning Communities, not all students will be able to live in them, and will instead have to live in dorms that they say “desperately need renovation.”

Read the full petition below:

Vanderbilt students are speaking up to enact change in their living accommodations and to voice their discontent with recent policy change. Vanderbilt seniors have long held the privilege of living off campus their last year at the University; however, January 5th, 2018, the junior class was informed that off campus spots were being reduced to around 200 new openings. The Vanderbilt junior class consists of around 1,700 students, thus only around 1/8th of the class was awarded this privilege. The Vanderbilt juniors have been looking forward to the opportunity to live off campus after three years of dorms, and feel that this sudden change is inequitable, especially given the lack of suitable alternatives for us. We understand the University’s goal of creating Living Learning Communities to foster a different on-campus housing environment. However, the reality is that this option is not viable yet. Not all Vanderbilt seniors would be offered spots in these LLCs, rather they could be living in dorms that desperately need renovation, including dorms that have suffered from sewage leakage, bed bugs, and mold. While we support the initiative to build new dorms, it seems unjust to force seniors to live in these old dorms rather than permitting them to live off campus, as has historically been the case, while new LLCs are still being built. Vanderbilt currently charges students $10,218 for one year of on-campus housing, with an added $675 fee for the “residential college experience” of an LLC. The average monthly apartment rent in Nashville is currently $1,219. At the moment, Vanderbilt’s endowment is listed as $4.1 billion. Students could save over $1,000 by living off campus, and they could experience a well- earned step in maturation by living independently rather than in a dorm. Vanderbilt has taught us that student voices are heard and that we can help shape University policy. We are taking this opportunity to alert the University of our discontent with this policy that negatively impacts our college experience and was reached with limited student input.