You fall in love with the charming streets and quaint town. The aesthetically pleasing brick sidewalks and the tree-lined roads make it feel like home. The stoops, friendly faces and the mix of old and new draw you in. It isn’t your fault you feel this way, how could anyone resist? This is West Chester. More than just a university and more than just a borough.
West Chester University is a highly respected and attended Pennsylvania state school. People come here for the beautiful town, character and affordability. Unfortunately, student living and housing is not all rainbows and sunshine. Rundown interior, sunken roofs and leaky faucets and showers that don’t work at all: this is also West Chester.
Living in the borough for the past four years has left me with bittersweet memories, most of those bitter memories consisting of housing and landlord feuds. I have dealt with multiple landlords who ignore my calls when something went wrong at my house. I was forced to deal with a hole in my ceiling for two months, a cockroach problem, windows that don’t have locks and a toilet that won’t flush. Even though I was the one paying just under a thousand dollars a month to live there, I was brushed off and not taken seriously.
As each fall semester starts, students face so much pressure to find housing for the following year. As time goes on, housing gets more and more limited and the rent gets higher. You are forced to deal with a private, lazy landlord who neglects the property. Or, you may end up housing with Zukin, who is going to charge you an arm and a leg for a broken blind. Student housing companies and landlords are robbing students of their money and leave students no choice.
Not only are students abused by this system, the houses themselves are harmed in this student housing process. These gorgeous homes built in the 1700s and 1800s are not maintained properly. As a result, West Chester begins to lose its charm, and what people fell in love with begins to look run-down and unloved.
Some may believe that students are not responsible enough to have a nicely maintained home because they will just ruin it from typical college lifestyle. Although this statement may be true in some cases, it is not fair to associate all students with this behavior. There are so many responsible and mature students who are worthy of living in housing that does not violate some form of health code. The student housing department sets so many students up for failure by allowing these bad habits of landlords and property owners to continue.
Now is the time for students to speak up. Fight for the right to live somewhere nice. Look over your lease thoroughly and do not be afraid to ask for what you want. Do not settle for a scam. You are working towards something greater in life, and you should not be punished by living in a home that makes you unhappy or that is not functional.
Charlotte Neilson is a student at West Chester University. CN843769@wcupa.edu