Student Alleges NYU Is Forcing Her To Live With Her Roommate’s Four Year Old Son

Part of learning to love NYU is adjusting to the unique set of challenges that living in New York throws at you, all while dealing with the regular complexities that happen to normal college students. But everyone has their personal limits. Last year, a student had problems with completing an assignment that forced her to go down to Occupy Wall Street. She raised email hell with administrators over it.

And one year later, we now have Shasten Snellgroves, a junior at NYU who says that NYU is forcing her to share her living space with her roommate’s four year old son. Snellgroves says that with NYU’s sign-in policy, the child could spend every day in her room and sleep over six nights a month. She is not comfortable with this situation at all. When she approached a residence hall director about her concerns, Snellgroves says that the NYU employee “compared the situation to one roommate being uncomfortable with another having a homosexual partner stay the night.”

Read her full email to NYU Local after the jump.

I am Shasten Snellgroves, a current junior at NYU studying Media, Culture, and Communications and a resident of the NYU Broome Street Residence Hall. I have cc’ed one of the roommates that is also happy to speak further about the situation and shares my concern regarding NYU and their Guest Policy as it pertains to students’ children being allowed to stay overnight in the residence halls.

You can imagine my shock at the revelation that my new roommate for the spring semester is the mother of a four year old, and that according to NYU Housing, the child is allowed to stay overnight for a maximum of six nights per month in accordance with the Guest Policy. I have been in contact via email with both the Residence Hall Assistant Director, Ali Guokas, as well as the Director, Ty Crisman, concerning whether the Guest Policy applies equally to minors as it does to adults and was told “the guest policy does apply equally to guests of any age”.

In my contact with these directors, I very directly addressed how I feel extremely uncomfortable with the situation for many reasons. I am a student and I do not feel as though I should be subjected to this kind of living arrangement. How can I be a successful student with a four-year old running around my study/living space? Assuming this student isn’t allowed to bring her son to class, why should student housing be any different?

Other questions were also raised as to who is responsible if this child manages to open the medicine cabinet and overdose on my medication or ingests cleaning substances? What is the child slips in the hallway or bathtub and sustains a serious injury? Who is going to stop the child from opening the refrigerator and drinking my bottle of wine? I now have to change the way I live my life due to the fact that a child will be a frequent guest in the apartment?

According to the Guest Policy, a resident may host a guest for no more than three consecutive nights, totaling no more than six nights per month. The resident has already asked for my signature for a permission slip for the child to stay a total of six consecutive nights. What kind of policy is put in place to protect me from her having numerous emergencies in which the child needs to stay for an extended period of time?

In accordance with the Guest Policy, she could potentially have her son here every weekend if she wanted, not to mention the fact that she can have her son signed in everyday as a “short-term guest”. I would define that as partial custody. I pay $8,340 a semester for my living space and am bound to a legal contract, but yet I was never informed of the possibility of me having to frequently share that space with another student and her child.

Believe me, I understand the new resident’s predicament and I am sympathetic to her struggle to juggle so many aspects of life, but I don’t feel that it is just for me to be facing consequences related to her life decisions. I don’t understand the act of accommodating her without any thought as to how this directly affects me, who is also a resident. Crisman responded to my concerns by telling me that he his “reviewing this situation thoroughly,” and that “open, honest, thoughtful communication between roommates beforehand is helpful in alleviating concerns/issues. Perhaps some compromise could be worked out between everyone”. I was told by Guokas to be accommodating to the new roommate, and she compared the situation to one roommate being uncomfortable with another having a homosexual partner stay the night.

In my opinion, a college dorm is no place for a four year old to be staying, and it is absolutely unheard of to me of any institute of higher education to be following such a policy. I don’t understand why I have been told on numerous occasions to “compromise,” but why do I have to compromise my college experience? Surely there are better options for both this student and her child, rather than sharing a bedroom with one other person and a living space with 6 other people.

This quote is taken from the NYU website, but it doesn’t exactly seem to hold true:

“Residential Life and Housing Services works in coordination with many departments and student groups to provide and maintain comfortable, safe and secure living environments for New York University residents. We want to make your experience a positive one.”

We’ve emailed NYU for comment and will update the post when we hear back.

UPDATE: NYU Vice President of Public Affairs John Beckman has emailed us with NYU’s comment on the situation:

This matter involves two women students who were to have been suite-mates in one of our residence halls for the first time this semester.  The University has resolved the matter in a way that is satisfactory to all parties. We will be reviewing our guest policies to determine where improvements might be made for the benefit of all student residents.

Yesterday, Snellgroves tweeted that NYU had moved her roommate into a single room:

[Image via SeanPavonePhoto /]


    Share Your Thoughts


  1. Sara C says

    What makes this stupid is that Shasten is complaining about “potential” problems – not problems that have actually happened.

  2. Ana V says

    To me, it seems most reasonable that NYU should have a system in place to give parents of children appropriate housing. Like how some colloeges have housing for married couples, there should be a system that would give the mother a single room in order to prevent incidents like this. It’s great that a single mother is continuing her education with a young child, but this situation palces too much risk on her roommates and on NYU.

  3. Anna S says

    Maija V: I completely agree. I wasn’t saying applying for a room change would solve anything–I was only trying to point out some of the hypocrisy of the commenters on here. A lot of them are making fun of this roommate for complaining in the first place and focusing on how good it is that the mother is in school. In reality, I’d bet none of those commenters would be willing to switch with this roommate and potentially have a baby as a roommate for a lot of the time.

  4. Chantelle M. says

    Kerissa, please screen cap your comments for posterity, so that when you grow up you can look back over them and see how misplaced your self righteous anger is. Hopefully, there will be policy change/clarification because of this scenario arising. Only an entitled, self absorbed, brat (or an idiot) would basically bring their 4 year old with them to NYU.

  5. Bart Salom says

    This is a reasonable letter. A university dorm is not the best place for a 4-year old boy. That’s why some universities have family housing, where married couples or students with children can stay. Can you imagine trying to do your work with a toddler running around?

  6. Mike Anders says

    Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. — Oscar Wilde

  7. Kai LI says

    It’s better to complain about “potential” problems than to complain about irreversible problems that have already happened.

  8. Gwen B says

    Sara C, are you suggesting that something should happened before Shasten Snellgroves complain? Does Shasten Snellgroves have to wait til the child slip and fall in the bathtub or swallow some pills before she raised any concern for the child’s welfare and for her own peace of mind?

  9. Kerissa Ward says

    Thank you, Chantelle, for proving my point that Ms. Snellgroves action of presenting this issue in such a public forum has held up her now former roommate to ridicule and judgement.

    We do not know the details of the situation from the roommate’s point of view, nor do we know other details like the actual times the child is the room. It has been assumed by many here and on other media sites that the single-parent student manipulates housing policy and that the child spends innumerable time in the room. Plus Ms. Snellgroves has leveled accusation of unprofessionalism at her residence hall directors because, in her opinion, will not intervene to her liking.

    At this point, I find Ms. Snellgroves behavior more inappropriate than her roommate’s.

  10. Michele W says

    @ Sara C – Are you serious? She should have waited for an actual problem to arise (the child ingesting alcohol, perhaps) before raising this as an issue?

  11. Christine Elizabeth says

    Even if the 4 year-old is best behaved little kid in the world, you still have to be very conscious of what you are doing around a small child. You have to modify your language, not leave potentially dangerous things around (and that category is very wide, since kids do and get into things we can’t imagine at times), and find a way to study or nap during the day with a kid stomping around and possibly being loud, throwing tantrums, etc. Many parents would ask that you not drink any kind of alcohol in front of their kid, or even watch or listen to certain things. These are things you have to sacrifice when you become a parent – I’ve lived with kids before in a “helping to raise them” setting. It is tiring just being AROUND kids all day let alone having an active role in their lives. It certainly is not conducive to a college student whether they are a foul-mouthed partier or a conscientious overachiever. Nobody should have to sacrifice these creature comforts or in some cases, necessities (naps in college saved my ass from over-exhaustion, and I wasn’t even a partier) for someone else’s kid UNLESS everyone agrees to it and is totally cool with it. Even then, a contract should be drawn up and boundaries would have to be set and followed to a “T”.

  12. Julie Walker says

    Hey you guys! Kerissa is DYING to live with mom and the four year old! Let’s make this happen! She can teach the kid how to be SMUG and SELF-RIGHTEOUS and the kid can teach her how to eat paste.

    Everybody wins!

  13. jackie protsman says

    they should have dorms for colliage student with childern .. so thier children can be with them all the time ,,, and daycare in the collage’s.. they are trying to make a better life for thier children ,, ,, i don”t see why not help them out ,, if it was you’r child .. i know you would want the same … .. so why not … theese are hard time”s we all live in .. so why make it hard for the one”s trying to do good for their children and for themselve”s,, give them a break ,, life is hard don”t make it harder …

  14. Lauren York says

    A dorm is no place for a child. It’s this exact reason that university’s have created family housing and single units. I would not want to change my language or study habits because a child invaded my dorm if I were still in college. The girl who filed the complaint was right (even if she did make it public!), she’s within her rights to live in an environment that she’s able to study in. Why should she change her study or living habits because someone wants to have a child stay over too many nights? the mother should have asked for family housing or a single from the start.

  15. Nora K says

    It seems as though Snellgrove is only going public with her situation because NYU (as they love to do) gave her no choice and placed burden on her to rectify the situation. And considering that it was only after she went public that NYU finally relented to what is a RIDICULOUS situation in the first place I don’t think she was out of line at all

  16. Sara C. says

    @Gwen B. @Michelle W. No, I don’t mean that something should happen to the child before she complains! I just meant that her roommate hasn’t even had the kid there yet and she’s already imagining that her roommate is going to have her son there all day, every day, fail to supervise him, and negatively affect her school performance. She hasn’t given it a chance. I thought the school’s response to work it out amongst themselves was fair. Just because her roommate is a nontraditional student and a young parent doesn’t mean she is rude and lacking common sense.

  17. Jeff D says

    To think that this became an issue in the first place is astounding. A college dorm room is in no way a safe or appropriate place for a child to spend long periods of time, let alone spend the night. Whoever didn’t see a red flag when assigning this mother to a two person dorm room should probably get reprimanded if not fired. Stupidity.

  18. Alina M. says

    NYU doesn’t pay attention to student complaints until people go public with them. Last Spring ’12 semester I was sexually harassed by someone in the Student Health Center, and my official complaint was dismissed, and my emails to administrators were ignored – the man is still working at the SHC in fact. Maybe if I went public with his name NYU would care?