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Boston’s more expensive student housing touches off equity debate

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Critiques hinge on dorms that private developers manage and other swanky digs

A rendering of the future fitness center at Northeastern’s LightView.
Rendering via American Campus Communities

The Boston area has become a hub of a nationwide trend in more expensive campus housing for university and college students.

In particular, more dormitories are going up that private developers not only build but manage—complete with all kinds of amenities more common in luxury apartment or condo complexes, including fitness centers and posher lounges.

Unsurprisingly, these newer student hubs do not come cheap. As the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes notes, the starting rate for a spot in Northeastern University’s newest dorm, a privately developed and managed high-rise called LightView that’s set to open in the fall, is $16,008 a year—and that’s for a shared room. The most expensive option for a Northeastern-managed place on campus is $12,504.

What’s more, area schools are also embracing tiered housing fees. Pay more, get more in terms of services and quality.

Proponents of the trends say that such moves save the universities and colleges money—especially the trend of private developers building and managing—and that that savings can then be used for other educational pursuits.

Critics, though, say the trends defeat part of the purpose of university life: Having students from all sorts of backgrounds interacting inside and outside of class.