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Emerson student could face disciplinary action for renting out dorm room on Airbnb

A 19-year-old Emerson sophomore decided to rent his dorm room on Airbnb.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A 19-year-old Emerson sophomore decided to rent his dorm room on Airbnb.

The listing offered tourists a private, single-bedroom unit with sweeping views of Boston Common, right in the heart of downtown.

Not bad — except that it was an Emerson College dorm room.

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Now the student who listed his room on the short-term rental website Airbnb could face disciplinary action.

Sophomore Jack Worth said he wanted to raise a small amount of money to help offset his burdensome student expenses, while also helping tourists find a place to stay in the city.

In January, the 19-year-old rented his room on Airbnb to three people on three separate occasions.

“Really, the idea just came from the combination of understanding where Emerson is located in the city, and it being in such a heavily-desired neighborhood,” Worth said in a telephone interview. “And the thought of how I could make a little bit of extra money.”

Worth would not say how much he made by renting his room in the Little Building, a 12-story dorm at the edge of the Common that, according to the college’s website, houses more than 700 students.

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But he said he’s paying a price — he faces a disciplinary hearing.

According to Emerson officials, it’s against the school’s housing and residency hall contract, which students must sign, to rent out or sublease a dorm room, or beds.

The rule is in place to “protect residents and the community from exposure to safety and security risks,” Emerson College said in a statement this week.

Worth’s Airbnb listing was online for two weeks before the school flagged it and asked him to take it down, Worth said.

Emerson officials would not confirm or deny that Worth rented out his room on Airbnb, citing federal privacy laws.

“However, an attempt by any student to sublet their Emerson residence hall room would be in clear violation of the college’s residence hall policies,” the school wrote in an e-mailed statement.

It may not be just Emerson’s rules that Worth violated.

In a statement, an Airbnb spokesman said that all hosts are asked to follow local regulations when renting a room or property.

Worth said he took extra steps to ensure that his guests were not a threat to fellow students living in the building.

He said he screened the temporary tenants, ran it by the other students whom he shares a suite with, and stayed with the guests when they left and entered the dormitory.

“I was not looking to put anyone in danger, and I didn’t see my actions as doing so,” Worth said.

Worth admitted he violated at least one of the school’s policies.

“The decision [about a punishment] is up to the school board, who I have an upcoming hearing with,” he said.

To keep Worth from getting possibly kicked out of school, someone started a Change.org petition called “Free Jack Worth”.

A Twitter hashtag was also started to back Worth’s experiment as a temporary landlord.

Worth said he did not endorse the petition.

“But if people want to leave a comment supporting me, that’s fine, too,” he said.

He might need the backup.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.
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