News | Student Life

Barnard announces changes to winter break housing policy

  • Jessica Swanson for Spectator
    BIG PLIMPTON | Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson, BC ’84 and TC ’87, announced in an email that Plimpton Hall will be the only Barnard dorm open for the first part of winter break.

Plimpton Hall may be a bit more crowded at the beginning of winter break.

Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson, BC ’84 and TC ’87, announced in an email sent to the Barnard student body early Wednesday morning that Plimpton Hall, on Amsterdam Avenue between 121st and 122nd streets, will be the only Barnard dorm open for the first part of winter break, from Dec. 19 to Jan. 4. The policy change will go into effect next year.

“Because Barnard offices are closed and resources are limited throughout this period, it makes sense, for safety and well-being, to have the small population of students who are on campus during that time reside in one location,” Hinskon wrote in the email.

After Jan. 4, all other Barnard residence halls will reopen and be available for student housing.

Previously, all Barnard dorms except Elliot Hall, 616 W. 116th St., and 620 W. 116th St. were open for break.

As had been the case before, students who elect to stay in housing over break will need approval from Barnard’s Office of Residential Life and Housing. Now, students will also have to request permission from a resident in Plimpton, which has suite-style housing, to use his or her room. 

“The Office of Residential Life and Housing will provide an online bulletin board to help non-Plimpton residents identify a Plimpton room that will be vacant during the break,” Hinkson said in an email to Spectator.

Another change announced in the email is that housing cancellation fees will now be based on a sliding percentage of a student’s room rate—which depends on if the room is a single, double, or studio—and the date of cancellation. Previously, the cancellation fee ranged from $250 to $1,000, based only on the date of cancellation.

But it was the change to winter break housing that had students interviewed on Wednesday riled up.

Neda Kashani, BC ’16, said she has struggled when negotiating with Barnard Res Life in the past, and worried that the new policy will make it difficult to secure winter-break housing.

“Already the process for getting winter-break housing is irritating,” she said. “Even if you have a legitimate reason, you might not get housing.”

Kashani said she was particulary concerned about having to find a student’s room in Plimpton to stay in over break. 

“If you don’t have a friend in Plimpton, you’re basically screwed,” Kashani said.

Plimpton residents, whose empty rooms may house friends and strangers next winter, were also worried about the policy change.

“It would be kind of hard coordinating with all your suitemates because it’s such a common space,” Plimpton resident Signe Schloss, BC ’16, said.

Celine Gordon, BC ’15, said that she thought the administration didn’t take into account students’ opinions when making the change.

“In my experience, Barnard Housing doesn’t really support or consider students’ opinions very much,” Gordon said. “They  do a lot of things that are super inconvenient to students. They seem more profit-driven than motivated to serve students.”

Hebah Khan, BC ’17, expressed concern about students having to temporarily relocate to an unfamiliar room.

“I think for the ones that are already stuck here without any friends over break and don’t know anyone in New York ... their room is a safe space, and I feel like if you uproot them, that’s very debilitating,” Khan said. 

news@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Plimpton would be the only residence hall open until Jan. 14. In fact, other residence halls will open after Jan. 4. Spectator regrets the error.

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BC Alum posted on

I always had trouble getting winter housing approval. ResLife doesn't seem to understand that for many students, their dorm isn't just a "room". For many students, it is their only home. Locking students out of their homes (where all of their belongings are) and asking them to relocate to another student's room and live out of a suitcase for a month seems particularly insensitive.

And for the students allowing others to use their space over the break - are they being compensated in any way for the inconvenience?

It sounds like if you think you'll need housing over winter break, you'd better consider Plimpton as your only option for a dorm.

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