The Office of Global Education received a slightly higher number of study abroad applications for fall 2015 and the full academic year, marking an upward trend in applications since 2011.
The OGE has 499 active study abroad applications for fall 2015 and the full year, and applicants must accept their nominations to study abroad by March 18. Students applied to fall and full-year study abroad programs by Feb. 10 and were notified of their acceptances by Feb. 27. Students studying abroad in this class make up around 30 percent of the total class.
In fall 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011, 444, 411, 370 and 377 students studied abroad, respectively. In the spring semester, the numbers are significantly lower, with 219 applicants for spring 2015, 270 for spring 2014, 230 for spring 2013 and 304 for spring 2012.
This upward trend comes as students express distaste for a housing policy instituted in February 2014 for the Class of 2017, forbidding students from participating in the spring housing lottery if they are studying abroad in the fall.
Upon return, students who study abroad in the fall will be assigned a random roommate or fill the space of a student studying abroad in the spring through a direct swap, and are not guaranteed to receive specific or desired housing on campus.
This policy change was previous scheduled to go into effect for the Class of 2016, but a February 2014 student petition called “Students Against Restrictive Housing Policy,” headed by Will Simons (COL ’16) gained over 500 signatures and caused the housing office to delay the implementation of the policy by one year. Students in the Class of 2016 will also receive priority in housing selections after a separate policy shift last February gave priority to rising seniors over rising juniors to encourage students to pursue on-campus housing.
This year, a similar student petition on Facebook and IdeaScale called “Change the Study Abroad Housing Policy 2015,” created by Simons, Declan Kelly (COL ’17) and Ken Nunnenkamp (MSB ’16), has amassed over 530 signatures since its creation on Feb. 2. The trio aim to ensure that students are not penalized for studying abroad, and they met with Executive Director of Residential Services Patrick Killilee to discuss altering the policy Feb. 25. The group resolved to create a housing working group, currently in its nascent stages.
A definitive list of names for the working committee has not yet been released, but Kelly, Simons, Nunnenkamp and Killilee will be involved. In addition, Simons and Nunnemkamp will be members of the cabinet of the incoming Georgetown University Student Association executive team. Assistant Director for Assignment Krista Haxton and Assignment Specialist Darnell Hammock from the Office of Residential Living will most likely also be involved in the working group.
“The working group we are forming will bring students and administrators together to devise creative solutions for the housing selection process that will ensure students who study abroad can receive desirable housing with their friends. The group will meet regularly and hopes to quickly solve the issue for the class of 2017,” Simons, Kelly and Nunnenkamp collectively wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Killilee said he is open to student suggestions within the working group but will not allow students studying abroad in the fall to participate in the spring lottery.
“The only topic that is not on the table is allowing students going abroad in the fall to select housing, only to be dropped from that process the very next day,” Killilee said. “Students accepted to study abroad will not be able to participate in the 2015-16 room selection process. They will be able to request housing for the spring semester. We are open to discuss ways to house students upon their return from abroad.”
Housing selection begins Feb. 23 with single room selection sign-ups and ends April 18 with male and female residence hall selections. If a student decides against studying abroad March 18, they will be eligible to enter the lottery for apartment, suite and townhouse selections that begin March 24 in addition to triple and residence hall selections that begin April 7 and April 18, respectively.
Simons said he is hopeful that the working group can work with Killilee before March 18.
“Killilee agreed with us on some of the principles behind the campaign: that students should be able to live with their friends and live in desirable housing — especially juniors and seniors coming back and living in apartments, even though they studied abroad in the fall,” Simons said. “We will have to put in the time to work and develop a creative solution over the next two and a half weeks because that nomination deadline is coming up. … I don’t want to lie and say it’s going to be easy, but I think we still can do it.”
Simons also said that he is not discouraged by the high number of active applicants for study abroad in the fall, since his petition does not aim to deter students from fall study abroad.
“The first thing I want to stress is that our students against restrictive housing campaign is in no way wanted to dissuade students from studying abroad. Actually it was the opposite; we wanted to ensure that students weren’t dissuaded from studying abroad despite the new housing selection process,” Simons said.
According to Office of Global Education Director Craig Rinker, despite the new housing policy, students still showed high interest in study abroad.
“I truly believe most students believe that study abroad is an investment in their undergraduate academic experience and don’t view their time away from campus as an opportunity cost, ” Rinker said.
The Office of Global Education participated in the decisions regarding the new housing policy, maintaining their priority of providing students with the best possible experiences.
“The Office of Global Education had continuous dialogue with the Division of Student Affairs and Office of Residential Living related to changes in the housing lottery process,” Rinker said. “I don’t find the change in the housing lottery process to be prohibitive, but simply another consideration for students to weigh. … I believe students will continue to see it as an investment in their education.”
Rinker expressed that while the housing policy may not affect student interest to study abroad, there are other reasons why Georgetown students decide not to study overseas.
“I truly believe that there is a study abroad opportunity for any student who wants to have one,” Rinker said. “Often, it is simply a matter of whether a student places study abroad as a higher priority.”
Adrienne Taylor (COL ’17) plans to study abroad in either Florence, Italy at Georgetown’s Villa Le Balze or at the McGhee Center in Alanya, Turkey to experience another culture and develop her major, art history.
“I’m going abroad because I feel as though this time in our lives is a really unique point where we are both flexible and supported,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that the changes in the housing policy did not affect her decision to study abroad.
“The housing policy hasn’t really affected my decision but it is definitely an added stress and a real disappointment,” Taylor said. “When we were all shopping for schools, Georgetown in all of their promotional material and information sessions is proud of their commitment to supporting students decisions to study abroad and the new housing policy seems to go against that.”
Christy Leonhardt (COL ’17), who will study abroad at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, plans to learn more about European health care systems and mental health in different countries.
Leonhardt said that she was disappointed by the new policy, but decided to go abroad regardless.
“While I ultimately decided to go abroad anyways, the new housing policy definitely influenced my decision,” Leonhardt said. “I do not think that it’s fair that I should be penalized for choosing to do something that Georgetown largely encourages. If this policy continues, I would not be surprised if Georgetown saw a drop in applications.”
Hoya Staff Writer Katherine Richardson contributed reporting.