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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Petition circulates to give students free break housing

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Kathleen George ’16 started a petition on that asked Carleton to provide housing to students who do not have a safe home over break.

Students may be in this situation if their parents are homeless, abusive, or unwelcoming. George was most focused on the latter category, especially for students in the LGBTQ community.

“I know at least six students from the LGBTQ community who really needed a place to stay with no cost over winter break,” she said.

George herself has been in this situation. She has spent some past breaks in a dangerous neighborhood in New York City with her mother, who lived there permanently. “I know what it feels like to not look forward to a break be- cause it risks your happiness and security.”

According to Carleton’s web- site, there are five groups of students Carleton offers break housing to: students who live 450 or more miles away, students enrolled in courses at St. Olaf, students working at least 20 hours a week on campus, seniors working on their COMPS project, and athletes who have the authorization of a coach. Only students taking a course at St. Olaf are exempt from the $70 per week housing fee.

Carleton handles claims of needing safe housing on a case-by-case basis because it would be too expensive to cover housing costs for all students, said Andrea Robinson, director of Residential Life.

Another difficulty would be determining how to allocate money in different situations. “That would be a significant undertaking for anyone on campus and Res Life does not have the staffing to make that possible,” said Robinson.

The petition, though since taken down, did receive, significant support. “I received an abundance of emails, mostly from sexual abuse survivors and international students, thanking me for starting the petition,” said George.

The decision to remove the petition from was not the result of a change in purpose. Instead, it signals a shift to the next phase of the project. “The petition created an easily accessible and conducive forum to spread the word,” said George.

However, there have been several petitions by Carleton students this year, which perhaps detracts from the impact of each one. George said she didn’t want her petition to be associated with because of its “dismissive and jocular reputation.”

To George, this is a serious issue, worthy of the extra funds and resources it would require. She is not in a position to know exactly how it would be paid for, but suggested donations as a possibility.

Ultimately, the College needs to believe in this issue for change to occur, she said. Whether or not it happens, George thinks it is important to make the attempt.

“I believe that students should be able to reach out to their school for help without hesitation as many of these hesitations come from previous and repetitive rejections.”

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