For most college students, living in dorms is a rite of passage. It’s also an experience that they’re willing to leave when the time comes to graduate or move into off-campus housing. But Lisa Palmer isn’t most college students.
Instead, the 32-year-old allegedly refuses to leave her dorm room, even after dropping out from her studies at Hunter College in New York City. And without any further options, the educational institution has had to take action to turf her out.
Palmer’s story began in 2010, when she signed up for classes at Hunter College. The school, part of the City University of New York network, sits in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood. Palmer had previously studied at St. John’s University in Queens.
And the Delaware native, who studied geography at Hunter, eventually moved into one of the school’s co-ed dormitories on East 25th Street. But as soon as she did, she allegedly failed to pay her dues. And by the summer of 2016, Palmer was denied housing.
In fact, according to Hunter College, not only had the 32-year-old failed to pay back those fees she owed, but she hadn’t left her on-campus residence either. The institution also said that it had sent Palmer several eviction notices, but those hadn’t swayed her.
And because Palmer allegedly continued to ignore their notices and bills, Hunter College took legal action against her in early 2018. In particular, the school filed a lawsuit in which it requested repayment for all of the money she owed – a staggering $94,000 in housing fees.
According to Hunter College’s website, it costs a student $6,000 per year to stay in a single room in a hall of residence. But Palmer’s bill had reached such a high figure “on account of her continued occupancy,” the school’s lawsuit said.
Palmer told a different story, though. She said she didn’t drop out, as Hunter College claimed. Instead, in February 2018 she told the New York Post that she had taken issue with her housing and tuition bills. The school had reportedly fought back, however, by not letting her sign up for classes in the fall of 2016.
Palmer further explained to the New York Post, “I felt that it was a miscommunication initially. But after I met with the dean, I felt they were starting to treat me unfairly. It was like, ‘Get out.’” The college’s actions also allegedly prevented her from signing up for classes just one semester shy of her projected graduation date.
And once Hunter College made the move that stopped Palmer from getting her degree, she decided that she shouldn’t pay her outstanding fees to the institution. “I don’t think paying it off is realistic. And I also don’t believe that I should have to pay it off,” she said to CBS New York in March 2018.
On top of that, Palmer claimed that she had a contract guaranteeing her to remain in collegiate housing over the summer. In March 2018 she revealed to BuzzFeed, “I stayed during the summer of 2016 following the expiration of my spring 2016 housing contract because I was permitted to do so by the Dean of Housing and/or Office of Residence Life.”
Finally, Palmer had yet another reason to dispute the charges, she said. Specifically, she met the conditions set by the college for students who wanted to stay in housing. She had “above a 2.0 GPA with good academic standing,” she told BuzzFeed.
But despite the pending lawsuit against her, Palmer still admitted to CBS New York that she wanted to complete her degree at Hunter College – part of the reason why she had yet to move out. “I feel like every semester is a new opportunity to register for courses. I think I should just stay and fight the case,” she said.
If the university’s lawsuit is successful, however, that plan won’t come to fruition. As part of the legal action, Hunter College requests that the city marshal or county sheriff come to the East 25th Street dorm and evict Palmer from the premises once and for all.
To prevent an eviction from happening, Palmer told BuzzFeed that she had sought legal counsel for the case. At the time, however, she had not yet found the right lawyer. “None have met my expectations in terms of their deduction ability,” she said.
For now, then, Palmer still lives in her 100-square-foot room and works two jobs instead of completing her studies. She did however admit to the New York Post that her student accommodation was “really lonely,” not least because she shares her hall with only one other resident: a middle-aged nurse who is also up for eviction.
In fact, Palmer and the nurse are two out of ten people that Hunter College wants out of its properties. Apart from the former student, the nine others are all nurses who were initially given housing when the building was owned by a nearby hospital.
However, the court of public opinion has already given its verdict on whether Palmer has to go – and the jury is split down the middle. Some individuals have said, for example, that Palmer’s not exactly taking up sought-after space.
“I went to Hunter,” one Facebook user wrote. “It’s a commuter school. Most of the student body lives in the five boroughs, which is why the eight people who come from other parts of the country to go to school here get away with this stuff. The dorms are EM-PTY.”
But Twitter user Kia Richards had other thoughts. “This is bananas,” she wrote. “How has she been able to stay for so long?” Richards’ question is the one that Hunter College has been asking for years – and with a lawsuit in motion, the school might just have its answer soon.