The friends of an Emerson College student are trying to prevent the school from punishing him for renting out his dorm room on Airbnb. But Jack Worth, the student who is in hot water with the Boston school, isn't the only one on a college campus listing their dorm room on Airbnb.
The website that hosts listings for people who put up their private residences for rent temporarily, has faced intense scrutiny from local governments accusing Airbnb of enabling illegal hotels and driving up the cost of rent.
Emerson won't say how it found out about Worth's listing, and won't say if he is going to be punished. An online petition with more than 300 signatures says, however, that Worth is facing "several charges of misconduct" from Emerson, "which could result in disciplinary action as extreme as his dismissal" from the college.
Worth told Boston.com that the college instructed him late last week to take down the page. It was up for two weeks, and he had three guests during that period.
Worth isn't the only college student making a buck from listing his dorm room on Airbnb. A quick browsing session shows listings at dorms for Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Columbia University in New York, Temple University in Philadelphia, and at the University of Chicago.
The prices vary, but some that are listed appear to reflect a somewhat illogical dollar amount, considering they are asking for more money than a Hilton hotel room would cost.
Many of the places where dorms are listed appeared to be in major cities, where rent and hotel prices are higher than in smaller places. College towns like Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or Ann Arbor, Michigan, don't appear to have any dorm listings on Airbnb.
College campus Airbnb rentals are often clear violations of school policies.
Emerson's residence hall policy and housing contract stipulates that undergraduate students cannot sublease or rent out college housing units or beds for safety and security reasons, the school said in a statement to media outlets. It declined to comment further.
Adding to the complications is that security, especially at dorms in big cities like Boston and New York, is very tight. Dorms often have 24-hour-a-day security patrols, and require check-ins for all visitors.
The petition supporting Worth at Emerson said he was just trying to earn some extra cash while in school. Students who supported him started tweeting with the hashtag #FreeJackWorth -- the online campaign, however, also attracted people who said Worth opened up other dorm residents to security risks, apparently siding with the school's logic.
Worth and his supporters who are behind the petition did not respond to a request for comment.
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