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Stanford makes room for more graduate students on campus

Stanford is making several changes to the graduate student housing program in order to accommodate about 260 more graduate students on campus next year, announced James Montoya, vice provost for student affairs, on March 9.

The revisions -- which will affect the housing assignment process, housing configurations and rates -- are designed to help ease the current graduate student housing crunch.

Single units originally designed as doubles in Crothers Hall, Crothers Memorial Hall and Escondido Village will be converted back to their original configurations and some larger two bedroom apartments will be available to three-student groups in order to make room for more students.

Other revisions include the introduction of a new housing priority assignment system for continuing students and a differentiated rate structure that takes into account various student housing options.

Some off-campus housing incentives also will be introduced. First, a revolving loan fund is being developed for students living off campus to help cover security deposits and first and last month's rent. Second, Community Housing Services will no longer charge students to list rentals and will reduce the rates for faculty and staff in order to encourage more listings.

"These are two solutions that can keep people in the Palo Alto market for two or three more years while new housing is built on campus," said Jesse Adams, a graduate student in mechanical engineering who was a member of the housing review group.

Last November, a group of eight administrators and three students were charged by the provost to come up with short-term recommendations to the housing problem. The final decisions on these changes were made by Montoya, Tim Warner, vice provost for budget and auxiliaries management; and Tom Wasow, associate dean for graduate policy.

"We considered a number of different options to create the greatest number of spaces on campus for graduate students who will be enrolling next year," Montoya said.

Changes to housing configurations will be reviewed regularly with the hope that they will be temporary, Warner said. "We need to continue to monitor the housing market very closely. There was considerable demand for housing last year and we anticipate that there will be considerable demand this year. We are certainly looking very closely at building new housing on campus," he said.

Last spring, the number of graduate students entering the on-campus lottery increased by 23 percent. Despite the addition of two new graduate student housing complexes on campus, a total of 591 graduate students remained unhoused after a second round of assignment was held in July, more than double the number the year before. Of those unassigned, 329 indicated they were willing to live anywhere on campus.

"If the demand this year is consistent with last year, the additional spaces will go a long way toward meeting the demand for single graduate students who indicate that they are willing to live anywhere on campus," said Kathleen Bransfield, manager of housing assignment services.

The increase in demand has been driven by a tight local housing market and soaring rents. The average rent in Palo Alto, for example, has increased by 33 percent over the last three years, with a 20 percent increase last year alone. Stanford's rates, in contrast, are approximately 25 percent below the market rate.

There has been a growing concern on the part of faculty members who fear the rental and housing prices in Silicon Valley will begin to drive prospective graduate students away from Stanford.

"The high cost of living in this area has created problems in the recruitment of the best graduate students," Wasow said. "We are working to address that problem by making more on-campus housing available at below market rates and through raising the levels of graduate student support. We also hope to establish an emergency fund to provide one-time grants to students facing special housing problems."

The university now accommodates about 46 percent of its 7,000 graduate students on campus. In comparison, Yale houses roughly 12 percent of its 5,000 graduate students, and Harvard houses nearly 26 percent of its 9,066 graduate students.

Revisions to Stanford's graduate student housing program that will be implemented during the 1998-99 academic year will increase this figure to 48 percent based on the current graduate student population.

Assignment process

New students will continue to be guaranteed one year of housing. Beyond the first year the new assignment system will extend priority to continuing students based on their degree program and years in housing, Montoya said.

Beginning next fall, for single students and couples, priority will be given to master's students through their second year in graduate housing and to doctoral students through their fifth year in graduate housing. For students in family housing, master's students will be guaranteed housing for two years and doctoral students will be guaranteed housing for six years.

Students who have completed their years of priority will still be eligible to apply for housing and will be accommodated if there is space, Montoya noted.

For students in family housing, previous years in graduate housing (including those in single student or couples housing), now will count toward the total number of years in housing. Students currently in family housing will be given a one-year grace period to adjust to the change.

On-campus housing prospects for two-student couples will improve under the new policy. Currently, only one student is allowed to submit a housing application. In the future, if both partners are registered Stanford students, each will be allowed to submit an application.

Housing configuration

Although 33 of the rooms in Crothers Hall and 97 of the rooms in Crothers Memorial Hall were designed to be doubles, currently all the rooms in both dorms are configured as singles. They were converted to singles after the opening of Rains in 1988 left significant vacancies in graduate housing. All the rooms that were originally designed as doubles will return to their original configurations.

In Escondido Village, 82 single bedroom apartments currently occupied by one student but originally designed for two occupants will be converted to double occupancy apartments. Some of the larger two-bedroom Escondido Village apartments will accommodate three students.

Rate structure

In response to student demand, a differentiated rate structure will be implemented next year to reflect the different housing options available to students, Montoya said.

Some of the new rates will be adjusted downward to reflect the higher occupancy rates being introduced. The per person rates for the Crothers Hall and Crothers Memorial Hall doubles will be approximately 25 percent below the current single rate. The per-person rate for the one-bedroom apartments that are being converted to doubles and the two-bedroom apartments that are being converted to triples will be approximately 15 percent below the current rate for a one-bedroom double occupancy apartment.

The semester and quarter rates for Rains, Lyman and Escondido Village two-bedroom doubles apartments and apartments for couples will be raised approximately 6.5 percent. The semester and quarter rates for Escondido Village family apartments, Escondido Village three-bedroom apartments and the Crothers and Crothers Memorial Hall singles will be raised 2.8 percent over current rates.


By Marisa Cigarroa

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