Housing options mixed for returning students

Jan. 24, 2013, 12:41 a.m.

With more students on campus than any other term, winter quarter poses greater challenges for students returning from an autumn quarter abroad, particularly as they try to find desirable housing on campus.

“Typically, the winter quarter is the quarter that has fewer students going abroad,” said Ramón Saldívar, Burke Family director of the Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP). “Students frankly don’t find it as attractive to be in a place like Paris or Oxford during the winter as they do during the fall or spring.”

Despite a steady rise in the number of students going abroad through BOSP programs over the last five years, winter quarter has remained the least popular for students travelling away from Stanford.

“That’s an issue that we’re very aware of, and we’re thinking hard about what we can do to help that,” Saldívar said. “It’d be ideal on many levels to have a more even distribution of students abroad over the course of the year, and in some ways to have even larger numbers of students in the winter than we normally do.”

Saldívar noted that the difference between winter and fall or spring enrollment numbers in BOSP programs varies on a yearly basis. Often, winter only has about five to 10 percent fewer students traveling abroad. This year, however, features a more pronounced difference in enrollment.

While BOSP is still finalizing its participant numbers, Saldivar projected that 288 students went abroad in the autumn. 185 students are currently abroad and 303 are planning to leave in the spring.

“Winter quarter each year has the highest number of students studying at the home campus, which means that winter quarter also places the highest demand on housing,” wrote Roger Whitney, executive director of Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Student Housing, in an emailed statement.

R&DE refused to release statistics to The Daily on the number of students coming back from abroad who were assigned to each residence, including to the Oak Creek Apartments. An email to Oak Creek residents on Jan. 4 said the complex has 219 undergraduate residents for winter and spring quarters, up from 80 undergraduates during fall quarter.

Konstantine Buhler ’14 returned from Oxford and was placed into a double in Crothers Memorial.

“The whole [housing process] is really simple,” he said. “I’m really happy with where I’m living, particularly with using Tier 3 and coming back from abroad<\p>…<\p>I was placed randomly but I have a very nice roommate, so I appreciate that.”

Lauren Felice ’14 was placed in Adams House in Freshman-Sophomore College upon coming back from Stanford in Washington.

“My priority was living on campus, so in that sense I lucked out,” Felice said. “I think it’s kind of about perspective because I have a lot of friends who are living in Oak Creek right now, and who came back from being abroad and aren’t even on campus.”

Oak Creek is often deemed by students to be one of the least desirable places to live, in part because of the complex’s distance from campus. Stanford began housing students in the apartment complex in winter quarter 2009.

“This effort was undertaken in conjunction with our Housing Master Plan, through which we strove to ensure the equity of student spaces on campus and not to crowd more students into rooms than the number for which they were designed,” Whitney wrote. “Also, an advantage which we have because we are providing whole apartments in Oak Creek is that we are able to keep some groups together, which is an option we were unable to offer in the past.”

Housing makes no promise of group retention for students entering the draw for winter and spring quarters. Oak Creek therefore provides a unique opportunity for students to try to live together upon returning to Stanford.

James Honsa ’14 was lucky enough to be placed with two people he knew after returning from Stanford in Washington.

“We all got assigned Oak Creek and then we contacted housing and requested that the three of us be put together, and they honored that,” Honsa said. “By and large I know that most people who made that request did wind up with people they requested. But I have a few friends who didn’t and just wound up with random people.”

Despite Oak Creek’s distance from campus, Honsa generally expressed satisfaction with his experience.

“I’m actually overall very happy,” he said. “It’s definitely a slower pace of life out here than on campus.”

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