Student Facing Expulsion Over Renting Dorm Room on Airbnb

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A sophomore at Emerson College could be facing disciplinary action as a result of listing his dorm room for rent on Airbnb.

According to Steve Annear for The Boston Globe, 19-year-old Emerson College student Jack Worth posted an ad on Airbnb offering tourists “a private, single-bedroom unit with sweeping views of Boston Common, right in the heart of downtown.”  The room, located inside the Little Building, a 12-story dormitory housing 750 students, was rented out on three separate occasions.  It is unknown how much Worth was charging for the room.

“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 said. “And the thought of how I could make a little bit of extra money.”

However, Emerson spokesman Andy Tiedemann said the move is against college regulations, as residence hall policy does not allow students to rent their dorm rooms as a precaution to help keep students and the community safe.

A petition on Change.com titled “Free Jack Worth” notes that the school has required Worth to take the listing down, and he will face a disciplinary hearing on “several charges of misconduct” which could result in his expulsion from the school, writes Tyler Kingkade for The Huffington Post.  Over 500 people have already signed the petition in support of Worth.

“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.”

Meanwhile, the hashtag #FreeJackWorth has seen increased usage on social media, although people seem to hold differing opinions as to whether Worth should have the ability to rent his room out.  Twitter user Ang Fettuccine wrote that Worth was an embarrassment to the college and should be expelled, while another commented on the rising cost of tuition, saying that Worth may not have had to rent out his room if college were not so expensive.

Yanan Wang reports for The Washington Post that dorm postings for Columbia University, Brooklyn College and Berkeley were all found on Airbnb, in addition to MIT, Temple University and the University of Chicago.  Each of these colleges are located in a city high in tourist traffic where many are searching for cheap housing.

Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty noted that hosts are required to follow local rules and regulations.  Worth was fined $150 by the website after removing his posting for fees associated with canceling a reservation at the last minute.  Nulty said that money has since been refunded.

To date, Worth is still campaigning for his right to rent his dorm room on the website.  His Facebook profile picture currently portrays himself alongside two of his friends wearing T-shirts reading “Life. Liberty. Airbnb.” and “We came. We saw. We stayed. (At Jack’s).”

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

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