There was a letter to the editor recently on the pages of “The Columbia Spectator” that we found quite well argued. In the letter, entitled “Barnard deliberately caused housing shortage,” Daniel Liss argues that Barnard intentionally accepted more students than they could possibly house. One of the key data points Liss cites is the yield rate. In spite of Barnard’s yield rate dropping this year, 39 more students matriculated than last year. So what would have happened if the yield rate had remained the same? Even more extra students would have matriculated to Barnard. There was no way that Barnard could have possibly housed the students even if the yield rate had not dropped.
As Liss writes: “I am disappointed that your recent article on Barnard’s housing shortage did not probe more deeply into why Barnard must now cram first years into four-person rooms. By Barnard’s account, students are stuck with the current space issue because of a “high matriculation rate.” In fact, a careful look at the numbers suggests quite the opposite: Barnard’s matriculation rate was low, given the number of students accepted this year. Here is a quote from your article: ‘Study lounges on the third through eighth floors in Sulzberger and Reid halls have been renovated into dorm rooms as 619 first-years matriculated at Barnard this year—39 more than last year … This year, Barnard admitted 23 percent of 5,676 applicants. Last year, Barnard admitted 21.3 percent of 5,606 applicants and 580 students matriculated for the class of 2017.’ Why did Barnard accept a higher percentage of students this year from a larger applicant pool, especially when Barnard has been grappling with housing space issues for years?”
He goes on to say, “Let’s crunch the numbers further. Based on the data Barnard has released, we can compare Barnard’s yield from 2013 and 2014. In 2013, 580 students matriculated out of 21.3 percent of 5606. The yield was therefore 48.57 percent. In 2014, 619 students matriculated out of 23 percent of 5676. The yield was therefore 47.41 percent. Even though Barnard’s yield dropped this year by more than a full percentage point, 39 extra students matriculated. Had Barnard’s yield held steady from last year, 634 students would have matriculated this year—54 extra students. The numbers are clear; Barnard deliberately admitted more students than it could comfortably house. Blame for the current housing shortage should fall squarely on the Barnard administration’s shoulders. Why did Barnard choose to accept so many applicants if it would need to scrap lounges and pack students into quads? Perhaps this could be the subject of another article. My guess would be that the answer relates to Barnard’s recent financial troubles. I hope Spectator follows up on this.”
We believe Daniel Liss has raised some very valid points and the data absolutely supports his argument. So why would Barnard do this? Is it because they needed the money? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!