Despite some steps to ease the housing crunch for graduate students, the
room draw is expected to leave some students – especially those in their
later years of study – without a campus room again this year.
According to the Housing Department, in 2007 there were 943 applications
for graduate housing, and 200 – more than one-fifth – were unsuccessful,
though later those students were offered housing from the wait list. An additional
343 first- and second-year graduate students were allowed to retain their apartments
without applying to room draw.
The Graduate Student Government Executive Committee said in a March 10 statement
that the current amount of University housing is "not sufficient," given
the challenges of finding affordable off-campus apartments. "Rents in the
area housing market are high, and access to affordable off-campus housing usually
requires students to own cars, a particular challenge for international students," the
University housing for graduate students includes about 500 beds in the Graduate
College and annexes, about 750 apartments, and about 56 graduate-student suites
in the undergraduate residential colleges.
Michelle Garceau and Leah Wright, both fifth-year Ph.D. candidates, lost
their apartments after the room draw last spring. Both faced many of the problems
the GSG described when they moved off-campus.
Finding a new apartment within her budget proved difficult, Wright said. "I
found several places for roughly what I paid in Lawrence [apartments], but most
were about 13 miles away." She and her boyfriend moved into a complex in
Lawrence Township where rents are significantly higher.
Garceau, who lives in Plainsboro, said the costs of commuting and the higher
rent have cut into her budget. "If I had to pay student loans, like most
grad students, I couldn't afford to live where I live," she said.
This year the University placed 331 first- and second-year graduate students
prior to room draw and had 1,072 room-draw applications. As students awaited
the room-draw results, many were worried that they would be among the unsuccessful
applicants. "I'm terrified about losing my housing," said Tomiko Ballantyne,
a fourth-year student. "I don't think I can afford to move off campus."
In a Feb. 28 letter to The Daily Princetonian, second-year student David
Hsu expressed similar worries about the availability of graduate housing. "At
the end of a long day in the lab or library," he wrote, "a bed is a
bed, and it'd be swell to know that we could rely on that."
The GSG noted that the University has taken some steps to help students find
off-campus housing, including hiring a manager for off-campus housing and planning
education seminars on renting in the private sector. The Executive Committee
said more was needed, however: "We feel the University should either provide
more on-campus housing, or make off-campus housing more practical."
Andrew Kane, the University's director of housing, told the Princetonian
said that in providing enough housing for about 70 percent of enrolled graduate
students, "Princeton's graduate student housing program remains well ahead
of the peer institutions that candidates for admission might be considering."