- The Washington Times - Friday, April 13, 2007

University of Maryland students folded their tents yesterday after the university system’s Board of Regents refused to pressure the university to provide more on-campus housing.

About 50 students set up tents on a campus mall Monday and began camping out in protest after more than 500 juniors received letters saying university officials had denied their requests to live on campus this fall.

“There’s a huge housing shortage,” said Emma Simon, student government president. “The Board of Regents, the university and the community need to come up with a long-term plan for affordable student housing.”

Dr. Linda Clement, vice president for student affairs, said the university gives priority to incoming freshmen because they think seniors are better equipped to find off-campus housing.

The Board of Regents yesterday granted Miss Simon’s request to appear and discuss the housing shortage but said they would not intervene in the dispute between students and the university.

The university had consistently added beds up until 2005 through new campus housing construction.

But in the spring of 2006, the Board of Regents created a policy to accept only public-private or private partnerships with developers for campus buildings such as student’s dormitories. The policy made it harder to find developers willing to work with the university.

The Board of Regents last spring also denied a loan request from university officials to fund new student housing, but the board accepted the university’s proposal to develop the East Campus, about 38 acres to the south of Route 1.

University officials are still negotiating with a developer to include new student housing as a part of the East Campus development.

Students had a meeting Thursday night to discuss the start of a campus petition and a documentary that would follow several students who were denied a bed on campus.

While rolling up her sleeping bag yesterday afternoon, Miss Simon said the Board of Regents could further assist the university by scouting out willing developers and talking with College Park community officials about creating new student housing.

“I don’t think the university needs to guarantee on-campus housing, but they have an obligation to provide adequate and affordable housing options for students,” Miss Simon said.

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