Jack Worth had no interest in making headlines when he offered travelers a place to sleep on Airbnb.
But the Emerson College sophomore made waves when he offered up his dorm room in the Little Building in January, and landed in enough trouble to merit a $150 fine from Airbnb and faces disciplinary actions that may go as far as his dismissal from the school.
“There’s been a lot of reaction to this, both positive and negative,” Worth said. “I understand why the school wanted me to take the posting down on Friday, and when they told me to, I did.”
He wouldn’t speak to the specifics of the charges, but he faces a student conduct hearing next week.
There is a Change.org petition, which Worth said he did not create nor did he ask anyone to create, called “Free Jack Worth” in support of his “entrepreneurial endeavor.”
“There is nothing criminal with providing cheap housing to travelers,” Ari Howorth, an Emerson student, wrote on the petition. “Jack Worth gave travelers from far and wide a taste of Boston life and the Emerson experience simply because he wanted to help those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in the downtown area. If the Emerson community is as inclusive as it claims to be, it should act it.”
Worth said he neither endorses or is opposed to the petition.
Emerson has a school-wide policy that students cannot sublet their dorm rooms.
“The Emerson College residence hall policy and the housing contract that undergraduate residents sign prohibit students from subleasing or renting College housing units or beds to protect residents and the community from exposure to safety and security risks,” spokesman Andy Tiedemann said in an email to Reuters.
Worth said that he was offering travelers a place to crash for the night in downtown Boston at a fraction of the cost of what nearby hotels would charge. He said that guests were not staying with anyone else in a single room. They were signed in with security and were accompanied at all times.
Three people stayed in his dorm room on three separate occasions through Airbnb, Worth said, and he had a long list of interested parties. There were no issues when the three people stayed with him, he added.
“A lot of the negative feedback that I’ve received has been from people accusing me of putting the student body in danger,” Worth said. “They thought that I was inviting random strangers off the streets to come stay in my dorm. I had the ability to vet these people through Airbnb. These weren’t random people. I never wanted to put anyone in danger. I just wanted to help people out and make a little money.”