Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Photo by Lizzie Rainey

WEST CHESTER – West Chester University has had an ongoing housing problem for some years now. Although the problem has been known for years, this year is the first instance in which we are seeing massive waves of students being denied housing all for randomized, non-specific reasons. West Chester University has three styles of residences: apartments, suites and traditional dorm rooms and two different options to apply to: WCU housing or University Student Housing affiliated housing. All current options are sitting at maximum capacity with students.  

Enter Nathan Killian, a commuter and psychology major. His first year at West Chester, he was online due to COVID-19 causing a global quarantine. The following year he was able to live on campus in a traditional dorm, only to be denied for the 2022–23 academic school year and, in recent news, the 2023–24 semesters as well.  

Killian discussed the financial impact of commuting, “Without a meal plan, housing and residency tuition is significantly reduced, but the amount of gas spent on the process of commuting quickly catches up to a normal student’s tuition.”  

The housing page of the West Chester official website states, “The Residence Life and Housing staff is committed to making your experience in on-campus housing both an enjoyable one, and one of personal development.” But students seldom feel that enjoyment with many people now facing potential homelessness with the recent denial of phase one of the application process.  

Students like Killian who have been at this school for years feel they were not a priority for West Chester housing. The university as a whole has been indirectly adding to the commuting problem by accepting large waves of students without first managing housing for them. 

On the university’s housing website it reads that “90% of all first year students live on campus.”  

But can that enjoyable experience the school promised students still be applied now? Dorm halls are packed full, even with some dorm hall’s RAs having to share a room in their expected single rooms. Trios are being assigned to rooms designated only for two occupants and living is uncomfortable for many.  

These students are not alone in this situation and many other students have already tried to combat the issue by making an educational Instagram page informing the public of what is happening at our school. The account can be found @wcu_housingcrisis for more information.  

This past August, the university tried to combat this over-acceptance problem by sending out an email titled “$3800 WCU Housing-Demand Grant this fall.”  

The incentive of this email was to get students who are already enrolled in on-campus housing to give up their positions this semester on campus for both the money and to give students the opportunity to live on-campus. Questions if the $200 non-refundable application fee went toward the grant paraded around at the protest @wcu_housingcrisis hosted in the academic quad this past Wednesday but still are unanswered.  

Students like Killian who were at the time waitlisted on their application for on-campus housing could not collect on the grant even if they wanted. A week later, he received the email saying that he would not be accepted in housing for the upcoming fall semester. The same can be said for many students who found themselves on the waitlist.  

Since the start of this school year, Killian has been living with a family member who is only about 15–20 minutes away from campus. He got lucky he did not have to drive from his home almost two hours away everyday. Killian could also afford to pay for a student parking pass where students are allowed to park in a designated lot for the duration of their classes and not fear being towed away during the school week. Unfortunately, many students who were forced to commute did not end up this lucky.  

With the extensive problems West Chester already has with parking, this massive increase in students is making the commuter situation even worse. Even with a new parking garage built, people are still complaining about how much of a hassle it is to park and be reasonably close to their classes. Now that we are in winter, the walk to class will only get worse as it gets colder. West Chester has enrolled its largest first-year class in history, with 3,006 students compared to 2,628 as of last September.  

With all of these new students, it is impossible to understand how the university planned to house them all. Similar things like these have been questioned repeatedly across campus since the recent results of phase one of the on-campus housing application. Many students who were granted on-campus living this year and years prior were not accepted for next year with no clear reason.   

No student is happy to see that their living situation must be compromised to accommodate for the over-acceptance of students, but it is many student’s reality. Commuting usually saves people money thanks to the lack of a meal and housing plan. But as we can see with the way gas and parking prices have been this year and years prior, Killian and many other commuters can all agree that attending classes these upcoming semesters will be a task tagging along a hefty price. 

Carrisson Hooks is a third year media and culture major with minors in journalism and digital marketing.

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