Seventeen PLNU seniors were promised a new housing option after being unable to get on-campus housing: Rather than living in the dorms or their own apartment, they would commute from a local hotel. Two weeks before the start of the semester, however, that plan fell through, and they were left without a place to live.
The incident started in April when housing applications closed and many seniors were left without on-campus spots. The frustration and shock of many seniors could be heard loud and clear.
Steven Dols, a senior Computer Science major, tweeted—demanding answers. “Has anyone gotten a halfway decent explanation from @PLNU yet about their decision to kick the entire senior class out of campus housing for next year with no notice whatsoever?” typed Dols. “Because all I’ve gotten is silence.”
The Office of Residential Life recognized students’ anger once room selection was over, said Molly Petersen, Assistant Director for Student Housing.
Having lacked on campus housing before in the past, PLNU looked to alternative housing options—including a hotel option at the Days Inn in Mission Valley. An on-campus waitlist was also created.
Amanda Chaffe, a senior Business major, was one of 17 seniors who had opted for off-campus hotel housing, coordinated by PLNU. The 17 students, as a result of not having been provided with on campus housing, were prepared to spend the fall semester at The Days Inn.
Although it would be a commute, many students looked forward to the continental breakfast, pool, gym, two queen beds and even daily housekeeping services—all for a cheaper price than living on campus, as an on campus meal plan would not be required.
Just two weeks prior to move-in, however, the hotel fell through. “It was one of those things where everything was normal until all of a sudden it wasn’t,” Chaffe said. Petersen contacted the students who had intended to live at the Days Inn and let them know she was searching for alternative living situations.
“It was so not what we needed,” said Chaffe, who stressed her lack of knowledge on how to find an off campus apartment. “We [Chaffe and her roommate] were excited for the hotel. Just us in the room, our own bathroom. We were pumped for it.”
It was not until August, just two weeks before the start of the fall semester, that the Office of Residential Life settled the housing crisis.
“I want to let you know that we have room for you on campus!” Petersen wrote in an email to the hotel opting seniors. “We will no longer be offering housing at the Days Inn due to this recent development, but can offer you a spot on campus.”
Spots in Flex, Colony and Goodwin had opened up—due to last minute decisions to live at home, transfer or leave PLNU altogether. “Spots on campus open up every summer,” Petersen said. “But you don’t know how many, and you don’t know when.”
The Office of Residential Life works with numerous departments, creating a predictive model that suggests the number of students who will want to live on campus.
The model extends out five years into the future, “so we see the trends,” Petersen said. “We based housing off of that.” When the numbers came back this year, however, nearly double the predicted amount of juniors and seniors wanted to live on campus.
Because PLNU technically guarantees juniors on campus housing, the Office of Residential Life couldn’t do the same for the seniors.
“You know they’re the group that is most ready to spread their wings and fly,” said Petersen, who receives an array of interesting phone calls and emails from angry students and parents alike.
Having coordinated housing at PLNU for eight years, Petersen combats snarky parents and students with laughs and a file in her desk drawer titled “Yay me!” The file is filled with positive emails and notes from students who acknowledge her hard work and the difficulty of her job. “I do my best,” said Petersen.
The 17 seniors that had opted for spots at the Days Inn hotel ultimately received spots in Colony, Flex and Goodwin—Chaffe in Flex and Dols in Goodwin.
“I am at peace with it,” Chaffe said. “I’m glad I have a place to live, but the whole situation was just kind of silly…I’ll just say it’s silly.”