As students move from their old dorms into the newly opened Tubman and Chávez residence halls on Toll Drive, students in other dorms on campus are being asked to foot a larger bill as a result of vacancies in campus housing.
Faced with empty beds in dorms across campus and the absence of an active waiting list to fill them, Stony Brook has decided to offer students living in double rooms without roommates the chance to apply for a “double-single” for the remainder of the semester. Students who accept the offer would pay a 20 percent surcharge on their spring 2017 room rate, in exchange for a guarantee that the second bed in their room will remain unoccupied. Students have not been required to accept this offer, but those who turn it down are asked to keep the extra space ready in the event they are assigned a new roommate.
“Occupancy during the Spring semester is historically lower than in the fall semester,” Associate Director of Residential Programs and Administrative Services Alan deVries, said. “As has always been the case, when we exhaust all waiting lists for housing and there are vacancies, we offer the option of occupying a ‘double room as a single.’ Residents who accept a double-single pay a differential rate with the assurance that they can occupy that space as a single for the remainder of the semester.”
About 300 students have expressed interest in signing up for a double-single since the offer was originally sent out via email two weeks ago, according to deVries.
Christopher Wong, a sophomore computer science major who recently moved into a suite in Hendrix College, has taken a liking to his new accommodations, despite the cost of the surcharge.
“There wasn’t a clear reason behind 20 percent surcharge. It was just part of the deal,” Wong said. “I enjoy my single suite so far, but I feel like the surcharge is unnecessarily expensive. The only reason I can see why it costs more is that it’s a double-single, not just a single, so I’m technically taking up an extra bed that could be used by another person, so it’s like I’m paying for 2 people instead of one.”
The opening of Tubman Hall at the start of the semester added 457 new beds to Stony Brook’s campus. Combined with Chávez Hall, which opened in September, residence hall capacity has increased by 759 beds in the last academic year, according to deVries.
Spots in both of the new halls were made available to students in good academic standing with a GPA of at least 3.0 and junior standing, via emails that emphasized the amenities of the dorms. Depending on their residence hall of origin, students moving into Tubman or Chávez pay an extra charge of anywhere between $400 and $1,000.
For Monica MacDonald, a sophomore biochemistry major, the additional cost of her room in Tubman has all but ensured that her first semester in the building will also be her last.
“I like having a layout that is four single suites,” MacDonald said. “But I can’t afford this next semester, so it’s sort of a nice thing to have for now. My floor has only two rooms filled and we don’t have an RA on the floor. They are trying really hard to move people in.”
While the Office of Student Affairs maintains that there is no waiting list of students looking for on-campus housing, there are a number of students living off-campus in the Brookhaven Residential Village interested in shortening their commute to class.
Brian Vo, a sophomore chemical engineering major living in the Brookhaven Residential Village, expressed his disappointment with the university’s handling of its housing vacancies.
“When I came here in fall 2016, there was a housing situation where they didn’t have enough room at that time, which is understandable,” Vo said. “But everyone at Brookhaven has received no notifications about any housing news whatsoever.”
When asked about the situation in Brookhaven Residential Village, deVries pointed out that residents of BRV signed a year-long housing agreement, and claimed moving anybody out at this stage would “disrupt the sense of community that has been developed at that residence hall.”
The university’s reluctance to offer students in Brookhaven Residential Village a bed on campus denotes a lack of concern for the people living in BRV, Vo said.
“I don’t think it’s fair that housing has not been helpful to people living in BRV,” Vo said. “Any other college wouldn’t have people living 30 minutes away when there’s open vacancies on campus.”