In a Jan. 21 email to sophomore, junior and senior students, Dartmouth announced plans to provide spring housing options at Summit on Juniper, an apartment complex located in Lebanon, just south of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Originally conceived as a graduate student housing project, Summit on Juniper would start leasing rooms to graduate students in August after undergraduate use ends in July 2022.
The off-campus residential option was mentioned in a housing intent and application form sent to non-first-year students on Jan. 11, but administrators waited to finalize plans after the form was collected on Jan. 17, according to campus services vice president Josh Keniston.
Upperclassmen will be able to live in two of the four buildings in the 638-bed facility; both have finished construction nearly five months ahead of schedule. In anticipation of a spring housing shortage similar to the one that happened in the fall, the College partnered with Michaels Student Living — the apartment complex’s developer and manager — to secure space for undergraduates, Keniston said.
“I think everyone experienced the fall housing crunch,” Keniston said. “As we look at the current projections on D-Plans, we expect a similar issue in the spring. Part of what we’ve been working on the last few months is to come up with some creative solutions to provide more options to students.”
The plan comes amid a serious housing shortage both on campus and in the Upper Valley, as the College looks to increase on-campus options in the coming years.
Summit on Juniper contains one person, two person and four person units, each fully-furnished with full-sized beds, high-efficiency HVAC systems and overhead bedroom fans, according to the email. Residents will also have access to Wi-Fi, in-unit laundry facilities, on-site parking, a workout room, mail room, package lockers, central gathering spaces, study spaces and the nearby Boston Lot hiking trails, as well as access to parking in the Dewey Lot on campus.
In addition, the College will provide daily shuttles to and from campus, operating from seven a.m. to two a.m. on weekdays and from nine a.m. to two a.m. on weekends, Keniston said. He added that during peak hours, Advance Transit will partner with Dartmouth’s privately-run shuttles to provide additional transportation on the service’s blue line. Shuttles will run a minimum of every 30 minutes, according to Kenison.
Some students have expressed concerns with the complex’s suboptimal location. Anders Knospe ’23, who was on the housing waitlist last fall, indicated that he would not live in the facility and pointed to the inconvenience and social isolation as key issues with the plan.
“No matter how convenient you make it, no matter how good you make the public transit, it is always going to be less convenient than going back to a dorm that’s a really short walk,” Knospe said. “I’m here to be with other students and for those social opportunities and for the academic opportunities. My dorm right now is basically a wooden box and I would prefer that over a luxury hotel that’s 15 minutes off campus.”
David Millman ’23, who serves on the student housing focus group of the Student Assembly, expressed concerns with students missing the shuttle. He said he could “very easily [see] a situation” in which a student arrives at the shuttle stop at 2:05 a.m., leaving them stranded on the main campus. In turn, he suggested that the College reimplement SafeRides, a program in which Safety and Security drives students to their destination. Currently, Safety and Security plans to monitor the new location, but Millman said he will “try to advocate” for SafeRides — currently suspended — within the Student Assembly.
Millman added that many juniors and seniors — the students who most likely will occupy the new complex, as first-years and sophomores are guaranteed on-campus housing — might not want to live in Lebanon after having been “divorced from campus” during the pandemic.
Knospe said he thinks the College should also incentivize students with cars on campus or those who have earlier sleeping hours to live in Summit on Jupiter. In the long term, though, Knospe agreed that “more housing” should be Dartmouth’s agenda.
While Millman said “any housing is better than none,” he called Summit on Juniper “an imperfect solution” to the College’s housing crisis.
“The problem shouldn’t exist in the first place,” Millman said. “There should be available housing on campus. That’s what we expected when we applied. But it seems like this is a good solution to immediately curb [the issue].”
Students who live in the complex will follow the typical application process for housing and will pay the same rent — $3,523 — as those living on campus, but they will not be required to purchase a meal plan, according to the email. Students can apply with a roommate group or individually, and all housing assignments will be sent out by Feb. 17.