Housing the Herd: When will Bucknell make the residential student experience a priority?

The+Bucknellian

The Bucknellian

Amanda Maltin, Opinions Section Co-Editor

Bucknell University boasts its tight-knit relationships between administration, faculty and students. For the most part, this is true. There are plenty of opportunities for student engagement and involvement in critical decisions regarding campus life at Bucknell. However, there is one aspect of the student experience that the administration cannot seem to approach in an effective manner: housing.

Most students who come to Bucknell do not anticipate there to be so many roadblocks when it comes to acquiring appropriate housing. Bucknell is a small, private institution that seems like it would have the administrative apparatus and space to accommodate its roughly 4,000 students. But, rising sophomores, juniors and seniors know that this is not the case. In fact, it seems like the one thing students at this school can all agree with is that the housing process is time consuming, confusing and frustrating.  

Rising seniors who are interested in living off-campus for their senior year have come face to face with the administrative shortcomings surrounding housing in recent weeks as they have been made aware of the transition from the housing lottery system to a revamped approach.  

Historically, rising seniors who wanted to live off-campus participated in a housing lottery – students would camp outside of real estate brokers on Market Street in hopes that they would receive a controlling number from housing services, enabling them to have priority access to acquire a downtown residence. This year, word got out that the lottery system had been eliminated, but there was no formal announcement from the school until this week, leading to chaos.  

In a memo sent to students on Sept. 26, Housing Services briefly outlined the new protocol for applying for downtown housing and provided the details on information sessions offered to students navigating the process. However, many students argue that this was too little, too late. Some students had already spent nights sleeping outside on Market Street in an attempt to sign a lease, although we now know that this violates the new housing protocol. The administration’s delayed response to students’ questions about housing led to students unnecessarily putting themselves in harm’s way and accidentally infringing upon the administration’s rules.  

One student who attended the information session voiced her opinion on the unfolding situation. Kalin Halstead ’24 said, “the institution does not make our housing a priority which has a huge impact on students’ mental and physical wellbeing. It’s disorganized, particularly for the rising senior class. We already had enough housing stress with the Vedder situation from last year.”

Halstead makes an astute observation here; this frustration and haphazard planning has impacted the class of 2024 already. Last year, sophomores were placed in freshman housing (Vedder Hall) due to room shortages, and later, after many students reported getting sick, the university came to the conclusion that there was mold present in many of the dorms. One student, Shayna Peart ’24, who lived in Vedder as a sophomore, said, “for what we pay to attend Bucknell University, there shouldn’t be this much stress surrounding housing.”

Ultimately, the mayhem surrounding senior housing reveals a deficiency in Bucknell’s approach to student residence. The administration needs to make serious changes to these processes in order to avoid student stress in the future.

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