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Housing Crisis Forces Seniors Off-Campus

When housing applications closed, rising senior Justin Ponsford found himself speechless and without a place to live next year. Without the priority registration that he and his roommates had expected, there was no available on-campus room for them. Disappointed, Ponsford says, “I prefer to live on campus because of the immense community. You don’t want to give up that life and that sense of community.”

As a transfer to PLNU and a commuter as his previous school, community played a significant role in making PLNU home. Now, a physical home here is no longer an option. As a senior, he expected to spend his final year of college on campus with his friends. The reality of being pushed off-campus came as a shock.

“I was really annoyed. The thing that really upset me the most was that there was no plan put in place to even help the seniors,” Ponsford says “They looked at me and said, ‘I’m sorry good luck.’”

For students with no cars, student loans and other factors in their higher education experience, living off campus can pose several issues. Ponsford suggests investing in additional off-campus housing or providing students with suggested alternative places to live.

According to Molly Petersen, assistant director of housing, approximately 1,800 students can be housed on campus. Petersen meets with admissions once a week to coordinate housing with the number of students. Peterson says a situation where students want to live on campus as opposed to moving off campus happens just about every year.

“We work with another department with a predictive model,” says Petersen. “We predict from spring semester to fall semester how many junior women want to live on campus, all the way down with gender and cohort. We get this prediction and that’s what we base housing off of. This year it was a little bit of an anomaly and the predictive numbers didn’t match the demand.”

With the common issue of housing on the PLNU campus, there have been alternative housing options in the past.

“A few years ago we secured some rooms at a hotel and some of our students lived there,” says Petersen. “We worked with the hotel so the students could use their school bill to cover that.”

According to Petersen, the school is actively looking into other housing options that can be covered with the school bill for seniors who have to select off campus. Though it may not be a workable solution, this housing would be available to seniors on the current waitlist. As for now, there is an on-campus housing waitlist.

“Over the summer spots become available. I hold 20 sophomore guys and 20 sophomore girls who weren’t part of roommate groups on a waitlist every year because 20–30 sophomore guys and 20–30 sophomore girls will not come back next year. They’re going to live at home, they’re transferring, a variety of different things and so when a spot becomes available I look at my waitlist.”

With these spots that open up, there are priority students.  According to Petersen, priority students are those without access to cars such as out-of-state students, those who would have to transfer without on-campus housing and those with disabilities.

“ I will start there and work my way through with as many people on campus,” says Peterson. “[Last week] I was able to get probably 40 of the seniors on campus that initially thought they were going to have to go off.”
Petersen says students on the waitlist should be looking for housing off campus, as there is no guarantee that a spot will open up.

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Emy Giddings and Rebecca Elliott

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