Medill Undergraduate Student Advisory Council seeks to make out-of-state housing more accessible, affordable


Daily file photo by Alice Yin

Northwestern’s San Francisco site is housed in the former headquarters of Wells Fargo bank. The Medill Undergraduate Student Advisory Council hopes to help students find accessible housing outside of Evanston through the potential creation of an online housing database.

Alan Perez, Reporter

The Medill Undergraduate Student Advisory Council is looking to make housing more accessible to Medill students who study outside of Evanston.

In addition to out-of-state Journalism Residencies, students who study on Northwestern’s San Francisco campus or in Washington, D.C. for the Medill on the Hill program often report trouble finding housing, MUSAC sophomore representative Nicole Fallert said. Fallert is working with Medill Dean Brad Hamm and other MUSAC representatives to make the search for housing an easier process for students, she said.

During a meeting with Hamm, Fallert said they discussed how to make housing more accessible to students. Fallert said she proposed an online database to connect students to peers who have studied or completed their JR in the same area. The website would show where students lived and how much they paid. In addition, the site could be used to contact past student residents and potentially have the residence passed down, she said.

Fallert said she didn’t apply to study at Medill’s San Francisco campus because she knew she couldn’t afford it. Although the University gives students press passes to cover important events, it does not help as much with housing, she said.

“You’re not necessarily going to be supplemented in terms of your actual lifestyle while you’re in that experience,” Fallert said.

Medill Prof. Karen Springen, who directs the JR program, said Medill faculty try to make out-of-state programs an “amazing” experience for all students.

“I hope you know I truly believe that everyone here tries so hard,” she said.

Fallert said though the proposals are still in the design phase, she hopes money is not a barrier for students hoping to participate in out-of-state programs. She also said Medill’s Office of Student Life should have a bigger role in funding and securing housing for Medill students.

Springen said students are generally resourceful when it comes to finding housing. In the past, students have connected with each other via Facebook groups and have found housing on websites like Airbnb, she said.

Though students have the option of staying in Chicago for their JR, those who leave Evanston have resources available to offset the cost of living, including stipends and scholarships, Springen said.

“We don’t want anyone to not go because of the money,” she said. “It’s not designed to be punitive, it’s designed to be open, (so) that everyone can have the experience.”

Springen said she hopes students reach out to her if they experience any difficulty in the process of finding housing.

Medill sophomore Melody Park said securing a residence near NU’s San Francisco campus was difficult. When she was accepted into the Bay Area Immersion Experience, Park said she was sent a list of potential housing choices in the area. Park searched for weeks on Craigslist and eventually reserved a room through Airbnb, she said.

“I could have used a lot more guidance,” Park said.

Other students said the rents for the housing recommendations were expensive. Medill senior Jasper Scherer said he was unable to find a residence on the list in his price range when he participated in Medill on the Hill. Compared to living in Evanston, Scherer said housing in the Washington, D.C. area “was a pretty significant price hike.”

Medill junior Ross Krasner, who participated in Medill on the Hill this Fall Quarter, said though he didn’t find the housing search process too difficult, he felt lucky that he was able to find a place that accommodated two other roommates with a price that worked for him. Krasner said an online database would be helpful for future students.

“The more resources the better, even with all the resources available,” Krasner said.

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