Late last week, we learned that Barnard students returning from leave or transferring in will probably have to live off-campus, which could mean the loss of some financial aid and on-campus housing the year after. We reached out to Dean Hinkson to hear the Barnard administration’s side of the story.

Upside: Barnard students might not be screwed. Downside: she didn’t give us conclusive answers regarding financial aid loss or the restoration of on-campus housing for those affected in 2013.

First of all, Dean Hinkson confirmed that not all transfer students and students returning from leaves of absence are not guaranteed on-campus housing, though they’ve often gotten it in the past. Dean Hinkson:

There has never been guaranteed housing for transfers, however, in previous years we have been able to accommodate their requests. Students on leave have also traditionally been accommodated but this year’s situation did not allow for that.

Update, 8/14 2 pm: A sharp-eyed tipster points out that Dean Hinkson never technically says that students on leave have not been guaranteed housing, though that’s clearly the implication. We’ll ask Barnard to clarify this.

Will those students forced to live off-campus still be eligible for next year’s housing lottery? Barnard’s Housing website says no, but Dean Hinkson says maybe:

That decision has not been finalized. An announcement will be made in the coming weeks.

And what about financial aid? Barnard’s Housing website says off-campus students will receive less financial aid, since they’ll lose on-campus housing grants, while a commenter on our last post claims that off-campus students still receive some housing aid, just not as much as on-campus students. Dean Hinkson is a little more evasive here:

Each student receives a financial aid package based on individual circumstances. The Office of Financial Aid takes into account many factors including whether that student lives on campus, off campus or commutes from home.

For now, the housing crisis only affects students returning from leaves of absence and transfer students (and residents of Plimpton corner rooms). Is there any chance it could spread to students with guaranteed housing? Dean Hinkson says absolutely not:

Everyone who was guaranteed housing has been housed.

Dean Hinkson also explained to us what caused the Barnard housing crisis:

We had fewer housing cancellations than we normally do, we had more returning students request housing, and overall, we have more students opting to stay on campus instead of seeking off-campus housing.

Looks like Barnard’s attempt to guilt students into living on-campus may have worked too well.

So there you have it: there was never a policy of guaranteeing housing for transfers or students taking time off, even though in the past they were accommodated. It all sounds eerily similar to Barnard’s last administrative flub. After closing the option of part-time registration for Barnard seniors, Dean Hinkson equivocated: she maintained that while part time enrollment had been allowed in the past, there was no explicit policy allowing it.

Moreover, Dean Hinkson understands that students forced to live off-campus this year would be looped into a catch-22 if they were barred from the Housing Lottery the year after, and she says she’s considering ways to sidestep that.