Off-campus housing limited

By Cassy Sottile

News Editor

Residential Life has recently been unable to accommodate all requests to live off campus, particularly in the Kent Crossing apartments.

“At this time, because of a high number of off-campus requests, we will be unable to review any more requests until after room draw is complete and there is a better sense of what our on-campus capacity is,” Residential Life said in an email sent on March 27 regarding off-campus housing.

This decision is in part to encourage more students to live on campus.

“For the health of the institution, it is important for us to fill our beds, but also we are a residential college. We recognize that the residential experience is important in our education here,” Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life Ursula Herz said.

Washington College’s peer institutions are also moving towards encouraging students to live on campus, according to Herz.

“Having more students on campus changes the dynamic for the weekend and activities here. With more students on campus, the energy is different,” Herz said.

According to the aformentioned email, WC is looking to reduce the number of college-leased Kent Crossing apartments available after reviewing the housing capacity on campus and the challenges regarding upkeep of those leased apartments.

“For 2019-2020, seven apartments will remain available for all of 2019-2020. Of these seven, six are four-person apartments. Four additional apartments will be available only for Fall 2019. The leases for the remaining apartments will be terminated over the course of the summer,” Residential Life said in the email.

Priority assignments for the remaining apartments will be given to students with specific medical accommodations that require either a private bathroom or a controlled use kitchen.

In addition to decreasing the number of off-campus apartments available during the academic year, summer housing has been moved from Kent Crossing to the quad dorms — Dorchester Hall, Cecil Hall, and Talbot Hall — due to turnover and the need to prepare the remaining apartments for fall occupancy.

Once the transition is complete, some students will be allowed to live off-campus. Residential Life is figuring out what the application criteria will look like and along with Laura Johnson, vice president of finance, balancing how many students WC has, how many spaces are available, and how many spaces can be released from campus.

“That formula calculates the number of slots available, then we figure out who qualifies for those slots. So, it’s a two-step process — what is the formula to come up with the number, and what is the formula to meet that number,” Herz said. 

Three years ago, Residential Life contracted with a company to conduct an in-depth survey of traditional halls and suite style halls, and would like to do so again to identify areas it needs to target. 

WC is among the few colleges in the centennial conference that allows students to live off-campus in any of their four years. 

“If we’re going to still allow but reduce the number of off-campus houses, we must make the dormitories as nice as we can,” President Kurt Landgraf said.

According to Herz, Residential Life is looking into enhancing the kitchenettes in the suite-style housing and renovating some of the older dorms, although this will be part of an ongoing improvement project.

Lori Wysong contibuted to this article.

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