Photo: 1 In A Million Shots by Aliyah Green
On Friday, Dec. 9, West Chester University updated its students on whether or not they would have housing for the Fall 2023/Spring 2024 semester.
It seems this decision on denying housing has affected a good proportion of students who are currently living in traditional housing on campus. As a result, this has left students scrambling to find alternative housing, such as apartments around West Chester and the university. Due to high demand and proximity, renting an apartment is through the roof. Those who cannot afford alternative housing are left with less than six months to find a place to live.
Housing should be a right; it is not an over exaggeration for those who have been denied. Not everyone comes from money, nor can they be reliant on their parents or caretakers. West Chester’s actions are selfish since they are not even guaranteeing their students a place to live, even if they do fill out the housing request, which closes on January 9. Students currently living on campus, who are denied housing for next year are left with an impossible decision to make: either pack everything up now and hope that they can find alternative housing within a month, or wait until May and move out then.
In all honesty, I did not think that the weekend of my 21st birthday would consist of basically getting evicted. It is a strong word to use, but at the same time, it is the truth. West Chester is only giving my partner and I until May to leave. We are both full-time juniors. We are not made of money, nor do we come from it. Although I am able to get some financial support, I cannot live off of it forever. Hearing “get a job” is a lame excuse; I have a job and am waiting to see if I can also get a paid internship. That does not seem to be enough for those who do not know what it feels like to have to find somewhere else to live.
Students look to social media immediately, most being able to relate to one another. Some examples include: calling the university out for denying a basic necessity, expressing their distress over unaffordable housing, considering transferring or even dropping out, and so much more. Some even started an Instagram account, gaining followers and sharing how this action will affect them. In an attempt to reach the news, students affected have reached out to 6ABC and written their complaints in the “Send A Press Release or Story Idea” section. So far, there have not been any responses.
As many college students know, living on campus is not a requirement for West Chester University. Unfortunately, the university saw this as an opportunity to accept 3,000 freshmen. Knowing that there would not be enough room, the university continued to ignore this uprising, and still is. Jeopardizing those who legitimately need housing is beyond the lowest of lows; and yet, here the university is, closing their office for the session right after telling students that they do not have housing. Where do they expect those students to go? Just because the Residence Life page lists apartments does not mean the university is willing to help students to afford a deposit and rent.
Besides the lack of help and assistance, I have gathered anonymous comments from a wide variety of students. These are the comments, as follows, “I now have to move back home with my toxic family,” “I don’t feel comfortable or safe living off campus [due to my identity],” “My roommate and I live on campus and will be seniors next school year, and we were denied housing,” “We have to find housing that is almost 10 miles from campus, and have to find good-paying jobs to afford rent while being a full time student,” “I live too far from campus to commute, so that isn’t an option for me,” “How am I supposed to learn, because forcing students to leave is similar to dropping out.” The list goes on and on. But, the university will continue to ignore these students for as long as possible.
My job as the assistant op-ed editor is to cater to those who need their voices heard. Writing this article is a risk that I am willing to take. I am a transfer student, so I know what it is like having to make a decision about leaving. Those who cannot commute, have a disability or are worried about their safety, have a toxic household, or cannot afford rent are put at risk of transferring schools or even dropping out. West Chester is big on their “number of transfer students who graduate”, but what about the students who are being forced to transfer? And dropout? No one should have to make that decision all because the university did not put a cap on the number of incoming freshmen.
I wish I could list all of the comments and concerns that I have gotten from students. This is just the beginning of West Chester’s downfall.
Kayla Redfern is a third year English major with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. email@example.com