AskBwog: Winter Housing Costs Money?

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Rumors that housing over winter break will cost you extra money this year sure are frightening. It turns out that for Columbia students rumors of the fearful fee are false, but Barnard students aren’t so lucky. In this installation of AskBwog, Sarah Camiscoli brings you the hard facts from both sides of Broadway.

20061219-barnard-greetingTake a breath, Columbia. Joyce Jackson, Associate Director, Housing Services, assures Bwog that all Columbia students who are not embarking on programs abroad, taking the Spring semester off, or flat out leaving the college are allowed to camp out here at their leisure during break, completely free of charge.  But those students who will not be returning to bask in Butler for the coming spring must vacate their rooms by December 23rd, before the dreaded last final.  Bummer.

Unfortunately, Barnardians will not enjoy the same freedoms.  While housing over Spring break is free for students who would like to stay at Barnard, housing over Winter break is only available on a limited basis.  In addition to applying and awaiting approval, which in most cases requires documentation validating a pertinent need to stay in the city, as of this year Barnard students must pay $100 for housing if they don’t fall into one of the following cool kids categories: seniors, international students, athletes competing over break, students participating in approved workshops the final week of break, or Residential Advisors.   Matt Kingston, Associate Director for Housing Operations Residential Life & Housing at Barnard, asserts that this fee has been adopted as a result of last year’s applicant pool – a full third of all Barnard residents applied to stay last break –  and an increase in costs specific to Winter housing (the price of ga-as).  Plus, those students who are approved and who are willing to pay the $100 fee are only permitted to have one guest at a time.  Yes, this policy does in fact demote Barnard residents who were not accepted to “guest” status. So no ten-person-sleeping-bag-commune in a single room, basically.

In defense of the fee, Mr. Kingston reports that the board considered the winter break policies at other institutions and found that they either do not allow students to stay over winter break, limit the students to one residence hall with expensive costs, or just charge more overall. Thus, Barnard Residential Life decided that $100 is a “manageable cost for up to 3 weeks of additional housing.” For those who can’t “manage” the fee, what does Barnard offer? A toast to the much-hated practice of Butler camping.

Barnard students can apply for housing at


  1. Bullshit Barnard  

    If your crap is still in your room during the Winter, it's still your room. They deny access to your room unless you pay $100 and meet their BS qualifications?
    How exactly is the Barnard housing contract structured to allow them to do this?
    Considering that Barnard housing can be $1000 more expensive than Columbia housing, this policy is, again, bullshit.

  2. why are we such whiners?  

    yes, $100 for 3 weeks rent in new york city is such bullshit. can somebody get you a medal? your insights are earth shattering.

    • hmm  

      Except that if you registered for housing thinking you'd get to stay over break, that $100 is an extra fee on top of the amount you paid for the year, which you might have thought included "rent" for those three weeks. Was this policy made clear at the end of last year, or is it just coming about now?

  3. BC alum

    this has actually been the Barnard Reslife winter housing policy for a while... not a whole lot new here guys.

  4. clg  

    speaking of bs housing policies, housing is going around campus today pulling fire alarms and making everyone evacuate so they can perform random room inspections. isn't there something illegal in this equation? Does this not qualify as inappropriate use of a fire alarm? somebody please explain this to me!

    • clg  

      this is columbia housing btw

    • In least in my dorm...  

      They do that once a month (as a monthly alarm test), but they don't tell you to evacuate. Are you sure you have to? I've stayed in my room almost every time (loud, yes, but whatever), and no one comes around inspecting rooms.

      That's one dorm of course, not sure how it differs elsewhere.

      • Are you  

        a freshman? They have always had monthly tests and everyone knows you don't evacuate, but every once in a while they conduct room searches for people who don't evacuate for "real" fire drills (oxymoronic, I know). They threaten you will the old "you'll get kicked out of housing" schtick.

      • clg  

        i'm a senior and this is the first time i've ever seen it happen. monthly drills always happen on the first wednesday of the month, so this most definitely was not. there were public safety guards and a bunch of housing people. my RA told me as we were walking down that they were doing random searches. i caught them badgering a visitor about not evacuating ("didn't you hear the alarm?") as I was walking in. It was clear that the alarm was pulled so random room checks could be conducted. no fire department, no nothing. what's the deal?

  5. This has  

    been BC policy for as long as I've been here, but it still sucks and is completely typical of Barnard ResLife. It's not as though they're housing students in the rooms over break, and they still have to pay for security guards, heating, etc. They're also making you stay until December 24th if you're planning on switching rooms, which makes me wonder if they ever actually consider students when they make their policies.

  6. BC alum  

    I had this problem every year as a student, even though I was an independent student and would have been homeless if not for the housing. I'm not sure what they expect students to do - all your stuff is trapped in your room and not everyone goes "home" for the break.

    If it were just a $100 fee and not a crazy application process which makes you plead your case in front of a bureaucracy that makes rules that don't consider actual people then it would be fine. I'd have gladly found a way to pay the money - but that's not the issue. The issue is you have convince them you need to stay, which should be a no-brainer for any student on financial aid.

    On top of that, with so many students staying and scattered around the whole dorms, I can't see how it makes a difference. If a security guard has to be on duty for one student in the building, does it matter if there are 100?

    One year they gave me flak because both me and my roommate were going abroad. They kicked us out on Jan 2, doing us a favor by giving us an extension from Dec 24. Then no one ever came to check if we actually left. No one noticed when we checked out. Our suitemates told us no one ever moved into the room and they just kept it locked the whole semester. They didn't even come to lock it for several weeks. Was it really worth the heartlessness when no one was even moving into the room?

  7. BC 2010  

    Actually, Bwog is right and the fee that Barnard is assessing this year is the first time Barnard has charged students to stay in housing over winter break (at least in the past 4 years, as I have stayed around campus every year). Policy has always been that you need a legitimate reason to stay on campus for the break, with documentation, but the fee is new. The real reason that Barnard is charging the fee is that they are poor, and need to get money in any way that they can, hence similarly excessive fees they charged to stay during August interim housing this summer. Fortunately I'm a senior, but I think this is total BS.

  8. Nuriel Moghavem  

    I'm part of CIRCA and we host a HS Model UN conference the weekend before school starts (MLK weekend).
    We have a staff of ~80, about 20 of whom are BC students who would have to pay the extra $100 to staff this conference.
    We're working on getting Barnard to waive the fee (the going is tough), but in all likelihood those students will just be housed in Columbia dorms. They'll be sleeping on the floor across the street from a bed that they've paid a lot of money for, which is absurd.

  9. Annie Aversa  

    Just to clarify a few things -
    1. Someone from the model UN has approached Barnard Res Life and was given the information about how to request a waiver - the department has not yet heard back, so there has really not been any "rough going").
    2. While the $100 fee is new, the restrictions on a student's ability to access his/her Barnard residence hall have been in place for several years now. The housing contractual periods do NOT cover winter break, and this information is clearly listed on the Res Life web site, in the handbook and on the housing contract that all residential students signed.
    3. The $100 fee has nothing whatsoever to do with Barnard being "poor" as one responder has suggested. If you think about the winter break period, if there is a particulat building, and there are actually 25 out of 300 people living in the building during the break, the College is still heating the full facility, and winter h eating costs are tremendous. Students are being asked to contribute to the actual cost of being here on campus, and even with the $100, it will not cover all of the actual cost to keep the buildings open and running.

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