Shasten Snellgroves, a junior at New York University, was stunned that she was made to share her downtown dorm room with a toddler.
In an email to the Huffington Post, The Media, Culture and Communications major complained, “You can imagine my shock at the revelation that my new roommate for the spring semester is the mother of a four-year-old, and that according to NYU Housing, the child is allowed to stay overnight for a maximum of six nights per month in accordance with the guest policy.”
The unique issue highlights a blind spot in many colleges' housing polices that now appear outdated when considering the changing demographics of college students. Snellgroves is a traditional college student. Her roommate is a modern one. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the enrollment of students under age 25 increased by 34 percent between 2000 and 2010. Enrollment of students 25 and over rose 42 percent during the same period.
NYU's policy applies equally to guests of any age, and Snellgroves points out that her roommate’s child could occupy the room as a short-term guest every day so long as her child doesn’t stay overnight. She said she has no problem with her roommate and is sympathetic to her roommate’s situation. She simply doesn’t see why she’s facing consequences related to her roommate’s “life decisions” or why NYU's housing policies shouldn't change.
Snellgroves pays $8,340 per semester for a bedroom that she shares with one roommate and common space shared by seven people. If she were aware that NYU permitted frequent guests of such a young age, she wouldn’t have entered the contract, Snellgroves said.
University administrators told the Huffington Post that it resolved the roommates' complaint and will review and update its policies to better accomodate nontraditional students.
Read Snellgroves’ email below.
I am Shasten Snellgroves, a current junior at NYU studying Media, Culture, and Communications and a resident of the NYU Broome Street Residence Hall. I have cc'ed one of the roommates that is also happy to speak further about the situation and shares my concern regarding NYU and their Guest Policy as it pertains to students' children being allowed to stay overnight in the residence halls.
You can imagine my shock at the revelation that my new roommate for the spring semester is the mother of a four-year-old, and that according to NYU Housing, the child is allowed to stay overnight for a maximum of six nights per month in accordance with the Guest Policy. I have been in contact via email with both the Residence Hall Assistant Director, Ali Guokas, as well as the Director, Ty Crisman, concerning whether the Guest Policy applies equally to minors as it does to adults and was told “the guest policy does apply equally to guests of any age.”
In my contact with these directors, I very directly addressed how I feel extremely uncomfortable with the situation for many reasons. I am a student and I do not feel as though I should be subjected to this kind of living arrangement. How can I be a successful student with a four-year old running around my study/living space? Assuming this student isn’t allowed to bring her son to class, why should student housing be any different?
Other questions were also raised as to who is responsible if this child manages to open the medicine cabinet and overdose on my medication or ingests cleaning substances? What is the child slips in the hallway or bathtub and sustains a serious injury? Who is going to stop the child from opening the refrigerator and drinking my bottle of wine? I now have to change the way I live my life due to the fact that a child will be a frequent guest in the apartment?
According to the Guest Policy, a resident may host a guest for no more than three consecutive nights, totaling no more than six nights per month. The resident has already asked for my signature for a permission slip for the child to stay a total of six consecutive nights. What kind of policy is put in place to protect me from her having numerous emergencies in which the child needs to stay for an extended period of time?
In accordance with the Guest Policy, she could potentially have her son here every weekend if she wanted, not to mention the fact that she can have her son signed in everyday as a “short-term guest.” I would define that as partial custody. I pay $8,340 a semester for my living space and am bound to a legal contract, but yet I was never informed of the possibility of me having to frequently share that space with another student and her child.
Believe me, I understand the new resident's predicament, and I am sympathetic to her struggle to juggle so many aspects of life, but I don't feel that it is just for me to be facing consequences related to her life decisions. I don't understand the act of accommodating her without any thought as to how this directly affects me, who is also a resident. Crisman responded to my concerns by telling me that he his “reviewing this situation thoroughly,” and that “open, honest, thoughtful communication between roommates beforehand is helpful in alleviating concerns/issues.
Perhaps some compromise could be worked out between everyone." I was told by Guokas to be accommodating to the new roommate, and she compared the situation to one roommate being uncomfortable with another having a homosexual partner stay the night.
In my opinion, a college dorm is no place for a four year old to be staying, and it is absolutely unheard of to me of any institute of higher education to be following such a policy. I don’t understand why I have been told on numerous occasions to “compromise,” but why do I have to compromise my college experience? Surely there are better options for both this student and her child, rather than sharing a bedroom with one other person and a living space with 6 other people.
This quote is taken from the NYU website, but it doesn’t exactly seem to hold true:
“Residential Life and Housing Services works in coordination with many departments and student groups to provide and maintain comfortable, safe and secure living environments for New York University residents. We want to make your experience a positive one.”
UPDATE, 4:21 p.m.: NYU Vice President of Public Affairs John Beckman told NYU Local they resolved the matter:
This matter involves two women students who were to have been suite-mates in one of our residence halls for the first time this semester. The University has resolved the matter in a way that is satisfactory to all parties. We will be reviewing our guest policies to determine where improvements might be made for the benefit of all student residents.
Snellgroves also tweeted that NYU Housing moved her roommate to a single.