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ResLife to enforce one-year Special Interest Houses limit

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 22:02

 

The Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) has this semester notified residents of Special Interest Houses — including the Crafts House, the Arts Haus and the culture houses — that the university will begin enforcing a policy barring students from living in one of Tufts’ 15 culture or language houses for more than one academic year.

The policy has been only loosely applied in the past and was added to the Small Group Housing manual within the last few years, according to ResLife Director Yolanda King.

“We’re doing it to give other students an opportunity to live in the Small Group Houses,” King said. “Last year

we had two to three houses that had almost 80 percent return back to the house.”

The new enforcement of the policy has been met with opposition from residents of the Crafts House and Arts Haus, both of which have frequently allowed students to return for multiple years. Even though the policy was in place in previous years, ResLife has historically approved housing applications from the same students year after year, junior Nicolas Lusardo, co-manager of the Crafts House, explained.

“We are upset because the precedent has always been that there wasn’t really an issue of students staying more than one year,” he said. “They did not make it explicit to us until this spring semester — we thought it was a little irresponsible and unprofessional of them to

surprise us with this news when a lot of us were planning on living there next year and didn’t have adequate time to find alternate housing.”

Residents of the Crafts House, which currently houses 12 students, submitted an appeal to ResLife earlier this month asking for a compromise that will allow four students to return next year. 

Lusardo said having residents return for multiple years has become important to the internal operations of the house. 

“In our appeal, we basically said [that] in order to assure proper accountability and continuity for the Crafts House community, there needs to be at least

 two co-managers of the house and the two co-managers of the Crafts Center to return for a second year,” he said.

King said the Crafts House is the only community to have contacted ResLife with dissatisfaction with the policy. ResLife is in the process of reviewing the appeal.  

“We met with [the Crafts House] and

compromised that they can have people come back in the house manager role, but they still were appealing for more students,” she said. “So we’re currently looking at that in terms of what their role would be in the house, but no decision has been made yet.”

Lusardo believes that having complete turnover from year to year would diminish the feeling of community within each house. The Arts Haus plans to appeal the policy in full rather than attempt a compromise, according to Arts Haus resident Carly Fuglei. 

“We’re definitely not going to let it sit,” Fuglei, a senior, said. “We think it really would mean the end of Arts Haus. There aren’t people that would carry on the institutional legacy.”

“There aren’t people out there who know

 the way in which the house works, the application process, the house dinners, the house dues. That whole structure would collapse and it would just become a dorm,” she added.

Fuglei noted that 14 people live in the house, including a student who has lived there for three years.

The Arts Haus aims to provide an alternative lifestyle for students who have not yet found a place on campus, Fuglei said, calling the Arts Haus a home for some New England Conservatory (NEC) and School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) dual-degree students.

“They already feel like they don’t have a spot at Tufts,” she said. “So they’re going to kind of lose out if they have to go back to living in a dorm, and they might just leave campus. That’s another thing to think of — that we might be losing a significant presence from SMFA and NEC students.”

Strict enforcement of the policy could deter students from applying to live in the Crafts House and other culture or language houses, Lusardo said.

“So much of why people apply to our house, and one of the reasons I applied and loved the Crafts House so much as a freshman and sophomore, was the ability to live in a house with people I had met and knew would be in the house the next year,” he said.

Lusardo added that the Crafts House has reached out to other Special Interest Houses in hopes of establishing a council that will give them a greater say in ResLife’s decision-making process.

“We’re forced to be in a reactionary position to policies [ResLife] chooses to implement on a whim or of their own choosing,” he said. “We just don’t think that’s a very democratic process for us, or inclusive, or respectful of our wants and needs as a community.” 

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