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Lack of Campus Housing Leaves Students Dorm-less

As housing contract offers began rolling out between January 20th and 27th, the time between the first and third rounds of offers, there were mixed emotions among those who applied to live on-campus for the 2011-2012 school year. The fortunate ones who did receive contracts were able to carry on normally, but those who were not even offered supplemental housing were left frustrated and scrambling to secure alternative arrangements for the next year. When incoming freshman are told on their tours that housing for returning students, while not guaranteed, is very easy to secure, why are so many students being left homeless, or rather, dorm-less?

According to Jennifer Garvin, Director of the Assignment Office and Ancillary Services for University Housing, Food Services, and Residence Life, 5,169 students requested housing contracts for next year. Of these students, 1,282, almost 25%, did not receive any type of contract offer.

“In the past, there were many years where we had no problem offering contracts,” said Garvin. “Over the past few years we’ve done great things with improving housing, and the environment is more conducive to students so more students want to stay with us.”

The lottery-style selection process has been called into question, with some suggesting alternative means of making offers such as GPA and semester standing. However, Garvin maintains that the random process is the best way to give every student a fair and equitable chance at being offered a contract.

Although the offer rounds have ended, those who did not receive a contract may still have a chance at living on campus, albeit a slim one.

Students who do not receive a contract offer are automatically placed on a waitlist in the same random order that they were placed in during the initial offering period. As of February 4th, the waitlist is open to any student who either did not accept their contract or did not apply for one. Instructions for how to add oneself to the waitlist can be found here.

Success with the waitlist is not guaranteed and can be sporadic. It is influenced by various factors including freshman enrollment and transfers of students who had already requested a housing contract. Because some of these factors are not finalized until later, students on the waitlist, if chosen, may not receive notification on their contract until close to the start of the fall semester.

A housing contract can also be obtained by doing a direct exchange with someone who received a contract but may have found other arrangements.

In order to help those who did not receive a contract make other arrangements, Housing hosts a few off-campus living information sessions. For more information on realtors in State College, visit Onward State’s Guide to State College Apartment Rentals.

Garvin also said that the Housing office is working with Admissions to amend what is being told to tour groups. She also noted that renovations in Simmons Hall will provide some extra space in upcoming years.

While this will help in the future, those without a contract must still make do with whatever off-campus housing is left since many of the prime spots for the fall have already been snatched up. If sororities were able to have their own properties off campus, it would certainly free up space for returning students. For the time being, however, students will just have to remember not to rely on being offered a contract.

Were you left out by the lottery process? What are you doing to find alternative arrangements?

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About the Author

Ali Fogarty

Ali Fogarty is a senior from the suburbs of Philadelphia majoring in Public Relations and Political Science who's passionate about Netflix and everything bagels.

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