The President’s Office sent an email to students around 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday announcing that Trembley Park will remain available as an on-campus housing option through 2020, effectively reversing the message in an email sent by Housing Services on Monday.
The Housing Services email sent to rising juniors and seniors stated there would be no on-campus housing available to them for the 2019-2020 academic year due to the pending demolition of Trembley Park.
President John Simon’s email to students said the Housing Services announcement “should not have been sent” and the same housing lottery process from years past will continue to be implemented.
It remains unclear whether the change in housing availability is only for Trembley Park, or if the change affects residence halls such as Farrington Square, Warren Square, Sayre Park or themed living.
Shortly after the delivery of Simon’s email, there was confusion among some members of the President’s Office, Provost’s Office and Housing Services. Individuals answering calls from The Brown and White seeking comment in each of these offices stated they were unaware of Simon’s email.
In a follow-up phone call, a member of the Provost’s Office deferred comment to Lori Friedman, the director of University Communications.
Friedman said some of the confusion may have been because Simon’s email was not sent to faculty or staff.
Multiple Gryphons declined comment, saying they were specifically told by the Office of Residential Life not to speak to The Brown and White, or their positions may be affected.
Friedman indicated that the campus community’s response played a role in keeping Trembley open for the next year.
“Today’s message was to correct (the email from Housing Services) and quell some of the confusion that was created,” Friedman said. “Trembley will remain open, the dates for all construction are not set in stone.”
Friedman said the Housing Services email was a “mistake,” but did not elaborate on exactly how the mistake occurred. She said she does not know when Trembley will be demolished but said student input will play a role in determining the timeline of the demolition.
Matt Sessa, the regional property manager of Greystar, the real estate company that runs Southside Commons, said there was a significant increase in the number of students applying for leases since Monday.
Sessa said he will be meeting with university officials to discuss how to handle the influx of applicants.
Brad Shaw, the senior director of Greystar, said he was not made aware of Housing Services’ initial email.
“We were not part of the decision, we were not consulted, we did not give our opinions on the university decision to take away housing,” Shaw said. “This was a decision the university needed to make independently, as it should be.”
In response to student housing concerns, Student Senate held a forum on Oct. 30, in which it called upon the administration to address the sudden unavailability of on-campus housing for upperclassmen.
“I thought the Student Senate proposal was not emotional, but factual, and really well-written,” said Jennifer Mertz, the director of the Office of Financial Aid.
Mertz said when the housing announcement went out, she was probably just as surprised as the student body was.
After the email was sent, Mertz said she made some calculations to determine the financial impact the decision would have on students.
She said the “standard” allotment for housing per student, whether on or off campus, is $7,930 per year. But when projecting for next year’s allotment, Mertz said that Southside Commons is about a $2,400 difference annually.
In the coming weeks, Pat Johnson, the vice president of Finance and Administration, Ric Hall, the vice provost for Student Affairs, and Student Senate will hold a series of student meetings to discuss the future of residence life and on-campus living.
In the email, Simon encouraged students to participate in the meetings to help foster better communication between the university and the student body.
A copy of the full email from the president’s office can be found here.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.