Skip to Content

### Concerns Raised by Study Abroad Students Regarding Housing Problems and Administrative Feedback

Rubble from a partially collapsed ceiling was found on a student’s bed (Image courtesy of Sophia Palitti).

Mold was discovered on the wall of a student’s bedroom (Image courtesy of Sophia Palitti).

Students participating in the Florence Semester Program at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts have encountered various challenges with their housing situation abroad. These issues include strangers gaining access to the communal apartment, mold growth, a ceiling partially collapsing, and bedbug infestations.

Among the students studying in Florence, senior Ella Jones expressed dissatisfaction with the responses from those managing their living arrangements. According to Jones, the housing conditions were appalling, and their complaints were not being addressed adequately.

The Florence Semester Program, in partnership with the Santa Reparata International School of Art (SRISA), is the sole study abroad program offered by Sam Fox.

Courtney Cushard, the Special Programs Manager for Sam Fox, oversees the program for WashU and collaborates with SRISA Housing Coordinator Anna Maria Arosemena to coordinate and supervise student housing placements.

Students reported instances of unfamiliar individuals entering their apartment without permission, with one incident occurring as recent as Feb. 11. Despite assurances from Arosemena to ensure proper door closure, students remained concerned about unauthorized access to their living space.

Efforts have been made to notify students in advance when maintenance workers need to enter their apartment. However, issues persist, with students recounting experiences of workers entering without warning, leading to discomfort and security concerns.

Infrastructure issues within the building have also been a cause for distress among students. Problems such as bathroom drainage issues and leaks resulting in a partial ceiling collapse have raised safety and maintenance concerns.

In response to the ceiling collapse, an architect and engineer were summoned to address the issue. However, students were dissatisfied with the administrative handling of the situation, particularly the removal of their belongings without consent.

Communication gaps and dismissive responses from administrators further exacerbated students’ frustrations. A lack of proactive measures and accountability regarding housing conditions contributed to an overall sense of dissatisfaction among the participants.

Mold infestations were another prevalent issue faced by students, with reports of mold being cleaned with Febreze as a temporary solution. Ventilation problems in the building were cited as a contributing factor to the mold growth.

Bed bug infestations were also reported, leading to students being relocated multiple times within a short period. Despite assurances of treatment, students continued to experience issues, prompting further relocations and disruptions.

Looking ahead, revisions to the housing arrangements for the upcoming Florence Summer 2024 Program have been promised. Instead of a single communal apartment, students will be accommodated in smaller groups across different buildings in the city.

Despite these planned changes, past participants like Sophia Palitti expressed hopes for improved housing conditions for future program participants. The challenges faced during their stay have underscored the importance of addressing housing issues to enhance the overall study abroad experience.