January marked the return of students to West Chester University after the winter break, however, it did not mark the end to the campus’ housing crisis. The housing crisis became apparent during the Fall semester, when students received an email that on-campus housing for the next school year would not be guaranteed to all returning residents. Students who applied, received an email from On Campus Housing stating they were either approved or denied based on a “randomized Housing Selection Process.” Many student applications were denied and some students took to social media stating they would have to transfer or drop out if they couldn’t find a place to live. Others joined the scramble to find off-campus housing on Facebook groups.
After many student applicants had been denied, a new opportunity arose. Months later, students could reapply to live on campus, which would grant students a second chance for a place in traditional housing. Students could expect to hear back as soon as February, or as far out as August. This time around, students were to be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis based on when they submitted their reapplication, but it is unknown how many applicants will be accepted. Given their prior experience with On Campus Housing, students are looking for other off campus options instead of relying on another application.
In West Chester, where students can live off-campus has always been limited, not only because of space, but because of Borough policies. The Borough requires that landlords must register in order to rent or lease housing to student tenants. In addition, the Borough has other codes that make off-campus housing difficult. For instance, some rentable spaces have a required age-minimum, which is usually around the age of 20.
In the email students denied for on campus housing received, On Campus Housing suggested University Student Housing (USH) and Off Campus Commuter Services as alternate resources. A student looking at these resources, went to apply to USH and found they could only apply for access to an application. About a month after applying for this application, the student received an email from USH stating “At this time, we are not yet able to offer you the application.”
Students are also encountering issues with off campus housing. The Edge, a popular student apartment complex, is only offering students a place on a waitlist, which has quickly filled up.
According to Apartments.com, a one-bedroom apartment within walking distance to campus is on average ~$1800 a month.
The struggle for on and off-campus housing led to two student-led protests occurring on the West Chester University campus which gained news attention. The first of the two protests occurred in the middle of finals week on Dec. 12. Students met in the quad before moving the protest in front of Asplundh Concert Hall, near President Fiorentino’s office. Student protestors shared their stories and what losing housing means for them, also expressing their outrage. Students marched, chanted and carried signs past the library and around the Academic Quad. The chants included, “Housing is a human right/ Fight, Fight, Fight” and, “I can’t go home, I have no home.” Another similar protest took place that same week.
More protests are being organized by the WCU Housing Crisis Committee and Students for Socialism and Liberation. The next one is set to occur on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. in the Academic Quad. More information can be found on the WCU Housing Crisis Instagram @wcu_housingcrisis, but also through their Discord linked on Instagram. If you are still in search of housing, there is a Facebook group dedicated to finding housing, “West Chester Off (Or On) Campus Housing.” WCU also holds events for off-campus housing which can be found on the university’s website.
Kelly Wallace is a second-year Media & Culture major with a minor in Journalism. KW978394@wcupa.edu.