In the first year that undergraduates working in Boston-area internships or studying for graduate school admissions exams will be permitted to stay on campus over winter break, 94 percent of students who applied to stay at Harvard were approved, according to College spokesperson Jeff Neal.
This year, the College received 1,351 applications from students seeking campus housing in one or both of two Winter Break sessions.
Two hundred nineteen students were approved to stay on campus for Winter Break I, which runs from December 22 to January 2, while approximately 1200 students were granted housing for Winter Break II, which runs from January 3 to January 12.
The percentage of approved applications increased over last year—when 91 percent of students who submitted applications were accepted—and two years ago, when 86 percent of student applications were approved.
Despite the surge in approvals, only a small number of students took advantage of the newly accepted justifications for winter break housing. According to Neal, about 15 students applied and successfully received housing for a Boston-area internship, while an additional 15 undergraduates sought and received housing to study for the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, or GMAT exams. These applicants were provided with housing as long as they submitted proof of exam registration.
As part of a review of January term programming conducted last spring, the College created the two new categories in response to student feedback to expand winter break housing opportunities for undergraduates.
According to Neal, the decision to allow students with Boston-area internships to stay on campus during winter break reflected an increased emphasis by the Harvard Alumni Association “on bringing alumni to campus rather than encouraging alumni to create internships around the country.”
But not all students who sought to return to campus early were approved.
According to Neal, students who planned to work a paying job, take courses at other schools or universities, or participate in a student organization that had not been pre-approved—including the Hasty Pudding, Dunster House Opera and Phillips Brooks House Association—were rejected.
Aruna O. Gnanasekaran ’12 applied for housing for both Winter Break I and Winter Break II because she could not afford to fly home to California and wanted to work on campus on her philosophy thesis, which focuses on one of Plato’s dialogues.
Although she was accepted to stay on campus in January, she was denied for the first half of winter break.
Gnanasekaran has begun the appeal process by setting up a meeting with her resident dean, but she said she is worried that she will be unable to find housing for Winter Break I.
“It’s kind of unsettling that it’s a possibility to begin with because I don’t have money to go home,” Gnanasekaran said.
Christopher D. Coey ’12, who would have to pay around $3,000 to fly home to Australia, was rejected from both winter break sessions after he submitted a proposal seeking campus housing to do research on the water supply following natural disasters.
Although he has non-Harvard housing for the second half of winter break with a water engineering field course, Coey has investigated housing options on Airbnb.com, which he expects will cost about $70 per night.
“If Harvard gives me housing, it will save me nearly $1,000,” Coey said.
Although the deadline to apply for winter break housing has passed, all students will be permitted to return to campus on January 13 for Wintersession, a week of programming modelled after last year’s Optional Winter Activities Week.
—Staff writer Rebecca D. Robbins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.