- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Emerson College has threatened to dismiss a 19-year-old student who was caught listing his downtown Boston dorm room on the travel site Airbnb last month in hopes of making extra money to put towards tuition.

Jack Worth, a sophomore, told Boston.com on Monday that he had already rented out his dorm room on three separate occasions when the school became aware late last week of his listing on Airbnb and asked him to take the ad down. He complied with their request quickly, but school officials say the posting violated Emerson’s residential policies and are now pursuing disciplinary action that could lead soon lead to his dismissal.

“Emerson is a fantastic location,” Mr. Worth told Boston.com. “There’s a high level of interest of travel in this neighborhood because it’s so centrally located. I saw this as a way to make some money, but also help some people out.”

Mr. Worth told the news site that he “had not read anything explicitly stating that” renting his room would violate the college’s rules, but the school said in a statement this week that all students who dorm at Emerson are required to sign an agreement that prohibits any such arrangements.

“The Emerson College Residence Hall policy and the housing contract that undergraduate residents sign prohibit students from subleasing or renting College housing units or beds to protect residents and the community from exposure to safety and security risks,” the school said.

“For privacy reasons and in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Emerson College cannot share any information regarding the conduct of an individual student without that student’s consent. However, an attempt by any student to sublet their Emerson residence hall room would be in clear violation of the College’s Residence Hall policies.”

Not everyone at Emerson agrees with the policy, however, and a “Free Jack Worth” petition created on Change.org has garnered more than 300 signatures in two days’ time. The site claims the school plans to charge the student with misconduct at an upcoming hearing, “which could result in disciplinary action as extreme as his dismissal.”

“There is nothing criminal with providing cheap housing to travelers,” Emerson student Ari Howorth wrote on the petition site. “Jack Worth gave travelers from far and wide a taste of boston life and the Emerson experience simply because he wanted to help those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in the downtown area. If the Emerson community is as inclusive as it claims to be, it should act it.”

A full-year of tuition at Emerson, a communications and liberal arts schools, costs $40,320 in 2016, plus around $15,000 annually for room and board.

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