J-Term Thesis Housing Murky

Despite e-mails sent to students this week by some undergraduate directors of studies, all thesis writers applying to stay on-campus will not necessarily be guaranteed January housing, said Interim Dean of Advising Programs Inge-Lise Ameer.

An e-mail Ameer sent to undergraduate concentration officials on September 24 prompted undergraduate studies officials in various departments to inform thesis writers that as long as they properly filled out their application materials they would be provided housing in January.

Ameer, who is heading up the effort to determine which students can stay on campus in January, wrote in the e-mail, “Of course thesis writers can be on campus in January...All [thesis writers] need to do is apply so we have a record of who is here for safety reasons.”

But Ameer told The Crimson yesterday that all thesis writers would not be guaranteed housing, only those with a “clear need” to stay on campus to work on their thesis—such as to do archival research or lab work—will get an opportunity to do so. Whether those without a “clear need” will be permitted to stay will remain undecided until after the application deadline.

“We are definitely going to make room for all thesis students who need to be here,” Ameer said.

After receiving this e-mail several directors of undergraduate studies said that they believed that Ameer’s e-mail meant that all students who properly applied to stay on campus would be allowed to do so.

“What we were told was thesis writers who filed by the October deadline would get to stay,” said Karen Kaletka, the coordinator for undergraduate studies for the government department.

“I think thesis writers are guaranteed,” she said.

Trygve Van Regenmorter Throntveit, the assistant director of undergraduate studies for the History Department, said he and his office originally believed that thesis writers who needed to stay on campus were not guaranteed housing.

But after receiving Ameer’s e-mail, he sent an e-mail to thesis writers in the history department, writing, “The Advising Programs Offices has confirmed that all thesis writers will be provided housing in January as long as they properly complete the application procedures.”

Amidst the confusion, some thesis writers remain nervous that they will not receive J-Term housing.

“I’m pretty sure actually that I’m not going to get it,” said Meggie M. Roberts ’10, a human evolutionary biology concentrator who applied to stay in January to work on her thesis.

She said that “having never written a thesis before” she is not sure what resources she will need to finish her Human Evolutionary Biology thesis.

Recently Roberts was asked to submit more information on why she would need to stay on campus in January. Ameer said that the College has requested more information from some students who did not provide detailed descriptions of their need to stay on campus in their original application.

Ameer said that the College has currently received about 800 applications from students hoping to stay on campus in January. While the College originally said the number of students allowed to stay on campus will not exceed 1,000, Ameer said 1,000 is actually more of a “guiding number.”

The College plans to begin informing students if they will be allowed to stay after the October 15 submission deadline—originally they had planned on having a rolling deadline.

—Staff writer Lauren D. Kiel can be reached at lkiel@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at newcomer@fas.harvard.edu.

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