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Housing and Residence Life displaces returning students currently assigned to Leonard Hall

Increased number of first-year students demands new housing assignments for some

American University Housing and Residence Life (HRL) asked returning students who were originally assigned to live in Leonard Hall for the upcoming year to relocate to a different residence hall or move off-campus to accommodate an increased number of incoming first-year students. 

In a June 17 email, HRL announced that both sophomores and upperclassmen originally assigned to live in Leonard Hall would have to move elsewhere after AU accepted more students than average during the past admissions cycle. The Eagle previously reported that the incoming first-year class is expected to be about 2,005 students, when it was about 1,780 last year.

According to the email, only one floor in Leonard will remain available for returning students originally assigned to live there. Upperclassmen can move to the Frequency Apartments, located next to the Tenleytown Metro station, or remain in Leonard for the same housing cost. Sophomores can either move to Duber Hall for a higher cost or remain in Leonard. It was not clarified in the email how the decisions would be made as to who would remain in Leonard.

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Nathan Payson, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, is moving to Duber instead of Leonard and realized the financial impact this decision will have on him and many returning students formerly assigned to Leonard.

“I think for a lot of people, [the housing assignment update] is more frustrating,” Payson said. “It’s an upgrade; it’s just some people don’t want to pay for that upgrade and don’t have the ability to pay for the upgrade.”

Payson said that it is “absurd” to expect returning students to pay an increased housing rate due to a mistake on the University’s part. A double room in Duber has a semester rate of $6,155, compared to the $5,048 for a traditional double room in Leonard, per the Housing and Residence Life website. For upperclassmen, an apartment style room in Frequency ranges from $6,350 to $8,115.

“From an equity standpoint, it’s very problematic,” Payson said.

Helena Milburn, a sophomore majoring in CLEG and journalism, is also choosing to relocate to Duber although she said she would have preferred to remain in Leonard.

“When COVID was happening, I understand why the University had to shut down, but with this, it really seems like it’s the University messing up and not some sort of global pandemic, big situation,” Milburn said. “Just frustrated and annoyed is what I’ve been feeling.”

The email asked that affected students complete a reassignment form on the AU Housing Portal by June 28. Housing and Residence Life set a goal to share students’ new assignments last Thursday.

Instead, Milburn and other affected students received an email that their new room assignments would be distributed at a later time.

“Logistically, I just need to know whether I need to look for an apartment and find roommates for that,” Milburn said. “Classes start August 30, and so that would give me a month and a half to find an apartment, which really isn’t ideal.”

Director of Residence Life Lisa Freeman said that HRL will offer support to affected students.

“We understand that every student will be impacted differently by this reassignment and we are actively working on all ramifications of this move, including additional financial aid, support and relocation options,” Freeman said. “Students impacted will receive an [update] on our assignments process later this week.”

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