Following weeks of petitioning and flyering on behalf of low-income, homeless and housing-insecure Barnard College undergraduates, College President Debora Spar sent an e-mail to the Barnard community on Monday night reinstating winter break housing for students with demonstrable "financial or personal" need.

From December 24th to January 16th, low-income students with proven need will also be invited to stay on campus free of charge.

"This is a VICTORY," said the Barnard College Student Coalition for Financially Insecure Students in a statement. "The administration is reversing course, and is offering a paper application to those really in need of housing."

The application is due by November 30th. As per the President's e-mail, "With the application, and any supporting documentation, we can determine how best to allocate available housing."

Only "mission critical" students like varsity athletes and tour guides were initially invited to remain in dorms this winter. International students, homeless students, those who would like to stay on campus for a short-term internship or for any other "individual personal reasons" like unsafe conditions at home were asked to seek alternative housing.

A spokeswoman for the administration cited the school's financial issues as a factor in reducing winter housing, as well as construction on campus, and limited campus resources over winter break.

Barnard, a women's college affiliated with Columbia, has long had a strict winter-break policy, charging some students $400 to stay in their dorms for the month-long break between Fall and Spring semesters. At neighboring Columbia, students are allowed free access to their dorms throughout winter break.

"We were dismayed by recent allegations that the College was turning away students facing homelessness, or those dealing with dangerous situations at home," said Spar in her Monday e-mail. "We always have, and always will, make accommodation for those students who, for personal or financial reasons, cannot return home."

Toni Airaksinen, a 19-year-old sophomore from Cleveland, rejected this statement, citing the mission-critical requirement. "Barnard is trying to make it seem like they didn't actually eliminate winter housing for those in need," she said. "They completely did."

However, she is pleased that the e-mail referenced homeless, low-income and first-generation students explicitly, and vowed to serve their needs.

Last week, a Junior Sociology student who is legally emancipated from her parents told us that, for her, "Essentially, it's not a plan or choice to stay here, it's the only option."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, she went on to condemn the school's demonstrated attitude towards low-income students. "Barnard positions itself as a bastion of postmodern feminism and social awareness," she said. "They hide behind this image.... Low income kids like myself are more than a brochure statistic."

Last week, the administration confirmed that it was making efforts to address the needs of impacted students, before the official reinstatement of winter housing. "Approximately a dozen students have reached out for help," a spokeswoman said. As of today, 8 students have been approved for winter housing. The application deadline is Monday.

UPDATE: Barnard spokeswoman Anna O'Sullivan issued the following statement: "The main purpose of the President’s notification to all students was to alert them of the procedure change—from in-person meetings to an application (as was the procedure last year), and to make note of the fees being waived."