The Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) hired Angelic Sosa as an assistant director of housing operations over the summer. According to Sosa, she assumed her role in July, and will work directly with Tufts’ off-campus and prospective off-campus student population.
The hiring of a dedicated off-campus housing specialist is one of many recent moves by the university to address the campus housing crisis, which has seen student groups such as Tufts Housing League (THL) petition for, among other things, an increase in the availability of affordable student housing. Along with the summer launch of an off-campus housing search website, Sosa’s hire represents part of Tufts’ effort to assist students searching for alternatives to living on campus.
Sosa previously served in a similar student housing-oriented position in San Francisco, according to her LinkedIn profile. Working amidst that city’s affordable housing crisis has helped her understand Tufts’ own situation, she said.
Armed with a belief that the current campus housing crisis should never get in the way of students’ pursuit of a Tufts education, Sosa explained that she will use her resources and knowledge to help students navigate the off-campus housing landscape.
Associate Director of Housing Operations Matt Austin oversees Sosa’s work, and helped to create the position she now fills. Austin said that the university “saw a very large unmet need” in its relationship with students that pursue off-campus housing.
Austin described a range of issues that students looking to move off campus face but are often unacquainted with: They have to understand the terms of their lease; they need to know what resources and services their landlords might need to provide them; they need to be made aware of their legal options if they run into trouble with their lease.
Sosa will be the university’s lead in educating students on these issues and more, according to Austin.
“Whether students are looking to start the process of going off campus or folks that are currently off campus just need a better understanding of what that looks like and what their rights and responsibilities are as tenants, [Sosa] is their person,” Austin said.
Sosa said that she is planning a series of talks and discussions to help students navigate the complex process of living beyond the Hill. She noted that these talks are for both students already living off-campus as well as those who plan to in the future.
These planned talks are themselves the product of feedback from students and Tufts Community Union (TCU) senators, according to Austin. He described his vision for the series of talks.
“We want to have two in-person [talks] per month, but also things like Facebook Live events where if somebody can’t make it they’ll be able to access it,” Austin said.
To decide what to cover in her talks, Sosa said that she will survey students on their current experiences with living off campus. Even the off-campus “horror stories,” as Sosa termed it, will be of use.
“I don’t want to approach [this role] from the aspect of ‘as an administrator I know what’s best for you,'” Sosa explained. “I want to know what [students] are dealing with, and I want to know how can I help [them] in [their] particular situation.”
Sosa’s hiring was well received by THL, whose recent efforts to rally the student body against what it considers unaffordable on-campus housing prices — specifically those planned as a part of the tiered-housing system, which comes into effect in the 2019–2020 academic year — complement the group’s larger goal of minimizing students’ disruption of the surrounding Medford and Somerville residential communities.
“We definitely welcome the hiring of [Sosa] because a designated person for off-campus housing has always been a big thing that was missing from the resource profile of the ResLife office,” THL member Jonah Schwartz said. “We look forward to her helping students make sure that off-campus housing is safe, pointing students to landlords with healthy living standards and maybe even offering legal advice in the future.”
Schwartz, a senior, reiterated THL’s concerns regarding off-campus housing.
“Now that the university has worked so hard on off-campus housing, we hope they pivot back to on-campus housing,” Schwartz said. “Again, [THL] hopes that it isn’t the position of the university to simply push students off campus.”
Austin said that while the university has no desire to move students off campus, it will be there to help those who want to pursue off-campus options.
“There still is going to be some degree of students who are living off campus, so we want to make sure that they have the right tools and education in place that allow them to have a successful leasing experience off campus,” Austin said.
To that end, Sosa said that she is available for appointments to discuss individual concerns, in addition to organizing talks and resources on off-campus housing.