HRL announces housing plans for the 2021-22 academic year

Black Affinity Housing, guaranteed sophomore placement are at the center of the plan

HRL announces housing plans for the 2021-22 academic year
Cherry blossoms in bloom on an empty campus.

Update: This story has been updated with answers from an AU spokesperson regarding refunds and housing costs.

Housing and Residence Life announced new details on housing for the 2021-2022 academic year, including confirmed Black Affinity Housing and sophomore living learning communities, along with application timelines and guides in an email Wednesday.  

The email and accompanying updates to the HRL website explained the office’s Returning Student Room Selection plan, which has been used in previous years to place students in University housing through a three-step application process. Current American University students enrolled full-time for the fall 2021 semester are eligible, including those currently living off campus. Sophomores are guaranteed housing if they meet all deadlines, the email said. 

Residence halls will revert back to shared occupancy with doubles, triples and limited singles available as prior to the coronavirus. Triples will only be provided in McDowell Hall and no temporary triples will be assigned, according to AU’s website. Every hall will have dedicated space for isolation housing if a member of that residence hall tests positive. On-campus students will be regularly tested for COVID-19. Details will follow D.C. mandates. 

“As part of AU’s continued efforts to bring students back to campus, all residential spaces will be available to students during room selection,” HRL wrote in the email. “We’re excited to offer you the opportunity to select a roommate(s) and share spaces with your peers again. As part of this effort, we will continue to share about health and safety standards as we approach August move-in.”

AU did not include detailed safety and health protocols on the webpage. 

“Details will be forthcoming and will reflect circumstances and District of Columbia requirements,” the FAQ states. 

According to the FAQ, Black Affinity Housing will be located in Roper Hall, which was initially proposed as a possible site for the initiative in 2020, The Blackprint reported. More information will be released on Feb. 11, according to Wednesday’s email. 

In October of 2020, AU proposed replacing Roper Hall, but did not clarify where it would relocate Black Affinity Housing. First-year students will be able to apply for Black Affinity Housing during their room placement process in June 2021. 

AU declined to guarantee refunds in the FAQ. 

“We hope there will be no unexpected closures, but can’t anticipate at the moment what arrangements might be made under those circumstances,” the site states. 

In an email to the Eagle, AU spokesperson Stacie Burgess said that in the event of University housing closing as it did in March 2020, housing costs would be prorated and refunded to students. 

The deadline to apply for housing is Feb. 22, with applications opening on Feb. 11. If accepted, students are required to make a final decision on housing between March 2 and 4. 

However, the FAQ states that housing fees will be released “before room selection” in early March. Burgess said in the email that housing costs will be made available to students before finalizing their decision.

In an email to prospective students accepted through the Early Decision process in late December, Acting Provost Peter Starr and Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence Fanta Aw announced the University's plan to return to pre-pandemic levels of housing for the fall semester. AU later clarified the email did not constitute “an announcement of a fall plan.”

“Over the course of 2021, American University will increase in-person activity as we plan to safely return to standard on-campus operating levels by the fall semester,” Starr and Aw wrote. “Our priorities remain the same as throughout the pandemic – protecting the health and safety of our community, advancing our education and research mission, and supporting the broader COVID-19 response in the Washington, DC, region.”

This is a developing story, and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

dpapscun@theeagleonline.com, frahman@theeagleonline.com

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