Despite University efforts, off-campus living remains hot commodity

Delaney Worth, Staff Writer

One benefit of being an upperclassman is usually the increase in housing quality or options. The University offers a handful of options for senior living in particular, although one such opportunity–renting a house within a certain vicinity of the campus–is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. The application for 2017-2018 off-campus housing went live online on Sept. 29, and will conclude on Oct. 6.

As for the approval process, student conduct will be reviewed, as well as an applicant’s commitment to a Greek organization’s designated housing. Associate Dean of Students Dan Remley asserts that no privilege is provided to those involved in the Greek system, but that “members of Greek letter organizations do have a responsibility first to their chapter and their housing requirements. Each house/suite will need to be at capacity and a 6-person alternate list provided. Any student appearing on [this] list would be ineligible to reside off campus.”

If an assigned lottery number falls under 200, it is then up to the eligible senior(s) to work out a lease agreement with local landlords. Information about available houses with health codes that have been reviewed and meet the criteria is provided by the Office of Housing Services.

According to Remley, roughly half of the incoming senior class (400-450 students) apply for 200 spots. This number is much lower than past years, a change that has been in the works for nearly two decades. The Board of Trustees initially decided to reduce the number of students living off-campus in 1998. According to Remley, factors that were considered included “[the Trustees’] concern for the safety of our students, the condition of the stick-built housing, and the interest to enhance the residential experience for all class years.”

Operating under the guidance of the Board of Trustees, the University allotted itself a 15-year window to construct new housing options. This was accomplished in Fall 2015 with the construction of the South Campus Apartments. The apartments provided the additional space necessary to accommodate the influx of students who would no longer be living downtown.

“There were many meetings, studies, etc. during the 17 years to keep everyone informed, to create and execute plans to return students to campus,” Remley said. “Bucknell University is interested in capitalizing on our residential character,” Remley said.

Louis Tobias ’17, who currently lives off-campus, sees the reduction from a different angle–one of less opportunity for student independence.

“Living off campus is the best part of Bucknell. You have the freedom to do as you please but are close enough to campus to still feel like a part of it. It’s a shame the University has been eliminating [it],” Tobias said.

Tobias also laments the lack of on-campus housing offered by the University, stating that there’s not enough for everyone. Yet even if there were, he still believes that students benefit from living alone, paying their own bills, and taking responsibility for their own property.

“More off-campus housing is good for the students and the surrounding community–the sooner they recognize this, the better off everyone will be. I encourage everyone to live off campus, to make the experience uniquely your own. Without this opportunity, your college experience will be incomplete,” Tobias said.

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