New RPI policy has parents and students scrambling to find compliant housing

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TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently put a new housing policy in place for off-campus students. No more than two students are allowed to share a bathroom. If they cannot comply, they are not allowed on campus and would have to do all classes online. 

A number of parents and students are upset and told NEWS10 ABC they’re now scrambling to find compliant housing at the last minute. They said their sons and daughters had already signed leases for apartments with four or five other roommates, which is typical for student housing in that area.

One parent, who did not want to be identified, told NEWS10, “They’ve [RPI] put students in a legal dilemma because of their decision that no other university has.”

Dean Sequera lives in Virginia and has a son at RPI, who is going for his Masters in Economics. He told NEWS10 the university notified students of the move with less than two months before classes are scheduled to start.

“Interestingly enough, in June, they gave a list of off-campus housing that they could look at, and now just a month later, most of those housing units do not comply with their policy. So, they didn’t think this through entirely,” said Sequera.

The parents said the timing and the basis is unreasonable and presents not only a financial burden, but hurts the students academically, too, as many of them need to be on campus for hands-on labs and capstone projects.

Amelia Perez, of Texas, said her daughter has three other roommates and they are still left trying to figure out what to do.

“This rental contract that these kids signed, that’s probably the first legal contract that they’ve ever entered. If they break it, that landlord has the right to report them to the credit bureau for breaking the lease and they will keep their deposit. That will follow them the next time they try to rent an apartment and that’s not fair to these kids,” said Perez.

“In our case, not only do you lose your deposit, you are required to pay for the months that the room remains empty. We cannot afford to break the lease or fight the landlord,” said the unidentified parent.

Sequera said his son now has to sublet his original apartment and rent out a house for just himself on Airbnb for significantly more money.

“$1,500 dollars more expensive per month,” he said.

The unidentified parent who spoke to NEWS10 said one of her son’s roommates is local to the Capital Region and is taking one for the team and living at home to reduce the amount of people in the apartment, but he will still have to continue to pay rent.

A petition written by students, parents, community members and alumni to withdraw the policy already has hundreds of signatures. In the petition, they also ask why faculty is not being held to the same standard and question how on-campus public bathrooms will be monitored. They also point out that in order to find an apartment that complies, many students may have to rent in another town or city, which would require them to take public transportation to the campus, increasing the likelihood for exposure. 

“I appreciate that they want to keep our kids safe. As a parent, I really appreciate that, but I don’t see that being accomplished with this rule,” said Perez.

NEWS10 reached out to RPI for a response, but we were told no one was available for comment and to monitor their website for updates.

“I’m hoping they grandfather clause the students that had already signed a lease,” said the unidentified parent.

“I’m a big fan of the school. I think my daughter is getting a really good education there, but the communication regarding this could have been a heck of a lot better,” said Perez.

Sequera said the deadline to inform the university of the students’ living arrangements for the fall semester is August 7.

NEWS10 looked into the fact that it seems RPI may lease out a local student housing location, College Suites at Hudson Valley in Troy.

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