DelVal’s Housing Shortage: Where Will We Go?

By Gillian Baker / Full360 Digital Producer

As the end of the semester approaches, most students who live on campus eagerly anticipate finding out what their housing selection is for the next school year. You gather with your roommate(s), log onto the portal, and pray you get into your dorm of choice, which for most students, is South Hall or Centennial Hall.

When some students went to log on last month, they were met with quite the surprise response: No rooms available. 

Refreshing the page and double checking their applications were submitted, many students were confused as to why they had seemingly no rooms available. Incoming seniors had no option but Cooke or Berkowitz Hall, despite having first choice. The only way around this was to opt for a five-person suite, meaning three people in a room made for two, which many students said they objected to.

Some were told they actually would not be getting into a dorm at all.

April Vari, Vice President for Campus Life, acknowledged the “high demand for housing this year” and emphasized that deadlines are a critical part of the process. 

“In anticipation of this fact, we were very aggressive with communicating with returning upper-class students about how critical it would be for them to complete their housing application/request for housing by the stated deadlines so that we could accommodate the demand.”

Vari and Thor Banks, DelVal’s Director of Residence Life and Housing, said they sent out multiple communications, and “in fact went so far as to send a communication to students’ homes to impress the importance of the deadline.”

Officials also said, “At this time, we believe we have met the demand of returning students who were on time, and even those who were given up to two weeks grace period with the timing of their application.”

Students acknowledge that many notifications were sent out to students to complete housing applications and requests. Many students by that point had also heard about the impending shortage and were presumably planning.  

When asked why some students claim they were denied housing, officials said, “Every returning upper-class student who requested housing by the stated deadline has been housed or is in the process of being housed.  Further, students who applied late but by the end of the selection process (which concluded on the 17th) are also in the process of being housed.  So, through the closure of the selection period, we have accommodated returning student demand, or are in the process of doing so.”

Off-campus housing: Not an easy option

Because freshmen and sophomores are supposed to live on campus, they got priority for housing, and a few upperclassmen were told to find off-campus housing. In a place like Doylestown, rent isn’t necessarily catered to college students. The prices are expensive, and not everyone can consistently spend that much money towards rent. 

Rourke Watson, an incoming sophomore, expressed his feelings towards being accepted into dorms over older students. 

“I am grateful to be placed into South (hall), despite only being an incoming sophomore. Some of my friends who are a grade or two above me weren’t able to get in, and I definitely feel bad for them,” Watson said.

It’s not uncommon to see younger students in dorms like South and Centennial for the coming year. Most impending sophomores were able to secure one of the two halls, despite soon to be seniors choosing 1-2 days before them and said to only be able to choose two-person dorms. Generally, students want to live in a two or four-person suite in South, as the rooms are newer and bigger, and they are equipped with their own bathroom.

Many sophomores and juniors feel that their time sharing a bathroom in dorms with no A/C has been served, and are frustrated about spending another year in these conditions. While most students are generally in agreement with this, some students are okay with living in any dorm and sometimes choose the ones that are communal. 

Officials backed this up, saying “Upperclassmen are always scattered throughout all of our buildings, every year… There are always students who are not necessarily happy with the room they get during selection, but that’s inevitable and happens every year, and is different than not being able to house students.”

Nate Reed, an impending senior, understands how many students are feeling.

“I understand why people are mad, and personally, I would be too. Living in a dorm like Berk or Cooke when you’re a senior can’t be ideal. You spend your time as an underclassman waiting to get into South and then being denied that is pretty annoying,” he said. 

University officials added:  “I know that students often think of South and Centennial as the ‘upperclassmen’ buildings but in truth, in every given year, there are more returning upper-class students who want to live on campus than there are spaces in South and Centennial. Upperclassmen are always scattered throughout all of our buildings, every year.”

“To add more opportunities for returning students to be accommodated in South Hall, we created three-person options – we have done this many times in the past and the accommodations in South offer the square footage to do so.  It’s been a very popular option through selection.”

“If I was asked to move off campus, I think I would have considered my options about school. Rent in Doylestown is expensive and that doesn’t include your groceries or consider the car you have to have,” Watson said. 

Though students like Watson were able to land a spot in South Hall despite their age, the shortage still caught up to them. The only option for him and his roommate group was to opt for a five-person suite, which for them meant a random roommate.

 Lots of students have found themselves in this exact situation and aren’t very excited to be living with “a random.” 

“It’s definitely an adjustment for both of us,” Watson said, speaking to living with someone completely new. “For me, I’ll be in a room with someone I don’t know. For the random roommate, they’ll be coming into a room of four friends that they don’t know. It’s definitely going to be a new experience for all of us.”

Many students who have received a random placement or random roommate are typically living in South/Centennial hall (with few exceptions). Some students find this unfair, as they had a full group and had to split up or even be placed into makeshift housing, like a lounge. The spaciousness of a lounge may sound nice, but don’t forget some students are still living in dorms with no A/C or they must use public bathrooms. Some say they’ve had to deal with issues like smoke alarm mishaps, frequent power loss, and in some extreme cases, issues like flooding. 

“For the amount of money we pay, I feel like the dorms should not be so troublesome for people. Wondering if you’re gonna have power or a clean bathroom is kind of crazy and shouldn’t be happening,” said Nate Reed. 

As of the end of April, some students still don’t even know where they’ll be living. Not only does it impose worry on people, but rentable places are also slowly being taken.

As time runs out for on and off campus living, some students face a looming question: Where will we go?

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