Following Emory’s cancellation of Fall 2020 study abroad programs on May 10, some students that were planning on studying abroad have struggled to secure on-campus housing, disappointed over the lack of guidance from the University.
“I have literally gotten zero guidance from Emory,” Isha Soni (22C,) a student who had been planning to study in Jordan and Switzerland in the fall, said.
The deadline to apply for on-campus housing was Feb. 23, more than two months before the cancellation of fall study abroad programs. Many prospective study abroad students, then, did not fill out the housing application, having already secured housing abroad.
Soni said after she was informed about her program’s cancellation, she was placed on the waitlist for University housing and contacted Residence Life and Housing Operations, but has not received substantial information from them.
“I put myself on the Emory waitlist, I emailed housing, I told them my situation. They were like we will follow up in a few weeks,” Soni said. “That was in April. It has been two months now and I still haven’t heard anything from them.”
When her program was canceled, Soni contacted the Office of International and Summer Programs asking whether she should “make a contingency plan for housing,” but was told it would not be necessary. Soni, however, still doesn’t know whether she will be able to secure on-campus housing.
Soni joins other students like Karen Lee (20C,) who planned to study at the Queen Mary University of London.
Lee said she’s also failed to receive any clear indication of her likelihood of housing on campus. She began communicating with Housing Operations via email in late May, asking whether study abroad students, who were now on the waitlist, would be given any consideration given they did not have the opportunity to apply for housing in February.
While they understood Lee’s situation, Housing Operations said they could not guarantee housing to juniors and seniors. Lee said her correspondence with them turned “argumentative” when, in one of the replies to her emails, Program Coordinator of Housing Operations Linda Huddleston said that Lee should have filled out the housing application by the Feb. 23 deadline in case her plans changed.
Huddleston did not respond to a request for comment.
“It felt like she was trying to argue with me and was trying to push this on me,” Lee said.
According to Lee, neither the Emory Housing website nor the Residence Life website state that students planning to go abroad should also apply for housing at Emory.
Lee also received an email from Campus Response addressed to Huddleston that read, “another one…”
Lee’s friend, Hope Yi (21C,) wrote a Facebook post on June 19 about Lee’s communication along with a screenshot of the email from Campus Response. The post has since garnered attention from hundreds of students, with some students sharing their experiences with the housing office.
Lee said that she considers herself a “close ally” of Campus Life and that while she was sympathetic to Housing Operations given the novelty of the situation, she felt that the lack of support given to students was “disappointing.”
“On reaching out to their office for assurance to see what resources and support are there for me — keep in mind, Emory constantly stresses we do that, that we have support and resources — and I found none of that during this process,” Lee said.
Associate Director of Housing Administration Rebecca Watson, however, was able to provide Lee with housing guidance on June 20. Watson said Housing Operations anticipates “a lot of cancellations” for on-campus housing this fall.
“If Linda … had been able to tell me that, ‘Yeah, hold on, I’m sure it will work out,’ that phone call was something that could have been resolved back in May,” Lee said.
In an email to the Wheel, Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Laura Diamond wrote that Emory is “working to address” these concerns.
“We are reviewing housing requests for the fall semester and assignments will be posted July 15. Students currently on the waitlist will be offered spaces after housing has a better sense of availability. Third- and fourth-year students are not guaranteed on-campus housing, however Emory is working to accommodate as many requests as possible,” the email reads.