College students have always come up with creative ways to pay tuition. They’ve been known to live off ramen noodles, and more recently, the loan-burdened but intrepid have tried crowdfunding their education.
No wonder, then, that a sophomore at Emerson College recently attempted to get back a slice of the price he has paid by listing his Boston dorm room on Airbnb last month. According to the Boston Globe, 19-year-old Jack Worth’s ad offered “a private, single-bedroom unit with sweeping views of Boston Common, right in the heart of downtown.”
This stellar location was right inside the Little Building, a 12-story dormitory that houses about 750 students.
Three people took advantage of Worth’s accommodations on three separate occasions.
“Really, the idea just came from the combination of understanding where Emerson is located in the city, and it being in such a heavily-desired neighborhood,” Worth told the Globe. “And the thought of how I could make a little bit of extra money.”
But this business venture went against school regulations. Emerson spokesman Andy Tiedemann explained in an email to Reuters that the residence hall policy prohibits students from renting out their housing units “to protect residents and the community from exposure to safety and security risks.
Worth has since taken down the listing at the school’s behest, and he faces a disciplinary hearing on “several charges of misconduct,” according to a Change.org petition that has taken up his cause.
As of early Wednesday, nearly 400 people had signed in support of Jack’s “honest, entrepreneurial endeavor.”
“There is nothing criminal with providing cheap housing to travelers,” fellow Emerson sophomore Ari Howorth wrote in a testimonial. “… He wanted to help those who 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.”
(Worth has not said how much he was charging for the room.)
Another supporter wrote: “He’s the hero Emerson deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So they’ll hunt him. Because he can take it.”
Twitters users have also rallied around the hashtag #FreeJackWorth, but with differing opinions about whether Worth’s actions were wise.
Emerson already has a problem protecting its own students. #freejackworth isn't cute it's embarrassing. Kid should be expelled.
— Ang Fettuccine (@MagnaFarta) February 2, 2016
Jack Worth is taking the L regardless. No one will ever want to hire an entitled fool who think the rules don't apply to him. #FreeJackWorth
— Malcolm Kelner (@malcmann) February 3, 2016
One sophomore at the University of California at Berkeley took the opportunity to weigh in on the cost of higher education, which continues to rise across the country.
Maybe Jack Worth wouldn't have had to rent out his dorm room if college weren't so ludicrously expensive. #FreeJackWorth
— Wang (@YoshiDinoJr) February 3, 2016
Others pointed out that Worth is by no means alone. A search through Airbnb yielded postings of dorms at Columbia University, Brooklyn College and Berkeley. The Huffington Post found others at MIT, Temple University and the University of Chicago — all schools in tourist-laden cities where cheap housing is in high demand.
Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty told Reuters that hosts must follow their local rules and regulations. After Worth took his posting down, Airbnb fined him $150. Nulty clarified in an email to The Washington Post on Wednesday that the amount, which has since been refunded, was the sum of fees associated with cancelling a reservation last minute.
Undeterred, the student is still actively campaigning for his right to post his room on Airbnb. His current Facebook profile picture shows him and two friends wearing T-shirts that read “Life. Liberty. Airbnb.” and “We came. We saw. We stayed. (At Jack’s).”
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