Graduate housing will be assigned to undergraduates next fall

by Julian Nathan | 5/26/17 2:00am

Thursday morning, dean of graduate and advanced studies Jon Kull announced in an email statement to the graduate student body that the North Park graduate housing will not be available to graduate and professional students this coming fall due to an “unprecedented” admissions yield for the undergraduate Class of 2021.

Historically, the 33-apartment, 111-bed housing cluster situated on the northeast corner of campus has housed first-year graduate students, according to graduate student council president Christopher Carroll, who is a doctoral candidate in astronomy.

In his email statement, Kull wrote that his office has contacted incoming first-year graduate students who had been expecting to live in the North Park residences and has worked with the Dartmouth Real Estate Office to identify alternate housing options.

Kull’s announcement follows recent speculation that the residences would no longer be available for graduate students next fall, according to graduate student council executive board member Rachel Brog, who is a predoctoral candidate in biology.

Carroll said Kull informed the graduate student council on May 15 that there was a high probability undergraduate students would begin living in the North Park residences to accommodate the unexpectedly large Class of 2021. Kull said administrators considered other solutions, such as encouraging incoming members of the Class of 2021 to take gap years but believed converting the North Park residences into undergraduate housing was the most viable option available, according to Carroll.

“We left the meeting feeling like there was not an alternative option [being considered],” Brog said.

Carroll said that he and other members of the council were surprised when Kull first told them that this course of action was a possibility. He said converting the residences to undergraduate housing would adversely affect the graduate student body because many graduate students who do not have cars on campus, such as international students, choose to live in North Park residences because they are close to campus.

Brog said students who come from other regions of the country might also choose not to bring cars to campus, necessitating housing close to campus.

If graduate students without vehicles cannot live in the residences next year, they might have to rely on the Advanced Transit bus system to travel to and from campus, which is undesirable because the buses suspend service in the evenings and during weekends, Carroll noted.

He added that the North Park residences serve as “a center of the graduate community” and help graduate students find friends and meet colleagues in different departments. He said that if graduate students are dispersed throughout Hanover and the Upper Valley, that sense of community will be lost.

He said he wished College administrators had consulted the graduate student body for its input before making the decision, explaining that measures like town hall meetings or surveys might have been useful to find a solution that worked well for both undergraduate and graduate student communities.

Brog said that she felt the administration’s lack of consultation with graduate students on this decision is tied to a larger pattern of administrative neglect of the graduate student body.

“It feels like graduate students are only a part of the Dartmouth community when it is convenient for the administration, and when issues arise we are automatically pushed out of the community and our opinions don’t really matter,” she said.

Carroll said that, to the best of his knowledge, senior College officials did not consult graduate school administrators in their decision-making process.

“My understanding [is that] administrators [from the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost] got together and decided on this course of action without consulting [Kull],” Carroll said.

In his email statement to the graduate student body, Kull wrote that College Provost Carolyn Dever and executive vice president Rick Mills “informed” him of their decision to convert the North Park residences into undergraduate housing, adding that the decision “comes as a disappointment to those of us in the GRAD community.”

Before Kull’s announcement, Dean of the College Rebecca Biron said that incoming members of the Class of 2021 will not live in current graduate student housing. When asked whether upperclassmen undergraduates would live there, Biron later wrote in an email that this was a possibility.

“We may be able to offer College-owned beds that have not been available for undergraduates before,” Biron wrote. “In a very constrained housing environment, we are exploring all options.”

Kull did not respond to a request for comment sent two days prior to his announcement to the graduate student body.

Associate director of undergraduate housing Elicia Rowan, associate dean of residential life Michael Wooten and associate dean of student affairs Katherine Burke did not respond to requests for comment.

Correction Appended (May 26, 2017):

A previous version of this article stated that Carroll and Brog were postdoctoral candidates, when in fact Carroll is a doctoral candidate and Brog is a predoctoral candidate. Moreover, a previous version of this article stated that Carroll is the graduate student council vice president, when he is its president. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.

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