College Announces Plans For All Students to Live in On-Campus Housing

Sarah Mazer ’19, Senior Reporter

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The college announced that due to the completion of the new dormitory at the corner of High Street and Conway Street, all students will live in campus-owned or controlled facilities for the upcoming academic year.

According to Associate Dean of Students Angie Harris, Dickinson has always had a four-year residency requirement. The Department of Residential Life and Housing’s website states that “all full-time enrolled first-year, sophomore, junior and senior students are required to live in college housing and participate in a college meal plan.”

Some students said that they were unaware of this policy because in recent years, a number of seniors have been granted permission to live off campus. When hearing of the four-year residential requirement, one student, Adeline Murphy ’19 said, “that’s news to me.”

Vice President and Dean of Student Life Dean Bylander announced the housing policy for next year in an email to the Class of 2019 on Tuesday, November 28. Student Senate held an open forum in the Social Hall to discuss housing with Bylander and Harris.

According to the Department of Residential Life and Housing’s website, seniors have been granted permission to live off campus because the college has lacked “enough beds to house all students in college-owned or operated housing.” Harris said that though she acknowledges that students may be disappointed about the lack of off campus permissions, “living off campus senior year was never a right,” and that seniors who live off campus had to apply and enter a lottery.

Director of Facilities Management Ken Shultes said that 118 seniors were granted permission to live off-campus this year.

In the email to the Class of 2019, Bylander wrote that the college has always had the goal of housing all students on campus because “an important part of students’ education occurs through living and interacting with other scholars who are from different backgrounds and have different experiences.” She added that the college has “long sought to reconnect seniors – especially those who have been abroad – with the campus community.”

Harris said that Dickinson will now be able to house around 80% of the Class of 2019 in the apartment-living spaces owned or operated by Dickinson. She said that the other 20%, will have first choice in placement in on-campus dormitories.

Harris said that the placement of all Seniors on campus will have a “trickle down effect” for next year’s junior class, whom she “doesn’t anticipate living in apartments.” Specialty housing and accommodations housing will be unaffected by the new changes, according to Harris.

Harris said that she recognizes that most seniors “will not want to live in that residence hall” but added that each year, some seniors elect to live in dorms. She said that seniors will be able to live in brand new singles and doubles and should appreciate the 51 new singles in the new dorm. She said that although the new dorm and housing policies will not allow all seniors to live in apartment-style living, it “should be adequate moving forward.”

Sarah Dembling ’19 suggested that since “it was repeatedly admitted that the new dorm was never meant to be for seniors… it would be reasonable to ensure that every student in our class who wants apartment-style living gets it. This could involve Dickinson leasing more apartments and houses in Carlisle for a year or two so that our class does not fall into this unfair situation.”

Liza Buccin ’19, said that prohibiting seniors from living off campus is “depriving us of opportunities for us to learn and experience life.”

Caitlin Farrell ’18, a senior living off-campus this year, said that she thinks the decision “hinders the ability [of seniors] to experience what it’s like in the ‘real world.’”

Farrell said that she also worries about the administration’s “failure to recognize that having some students off campus helps the local community, economically through rent and socially by allowing us to fully integrate with our Carlisle neighbors.” Bylander said that Dickinson students will “continue to be engaged in the Carlisle community for the common good” and Harris said that removing students from off-campus housing will help provide more affordable housing options for Carlisle residents.

Julia Mercer ’18, a senior living off-campus this year, said that living off campus is “significantly cheaper, any way you look at it.” She said that according to her estimation, living off-campus has saved her approximately eighteen hundred dollars directly and over six thousand dollars when including savings from opting to buy groceries rather than participating in the Dickinson meal plan, which off-campus students are now able to opt out of.

When responding to a student concern about the impact of the college’s policy on the campus social scene, Harris said, “I had no idea that I was that responsible for your social life.” She later added that although she intends to work with students to improve campus engagement, “I’m not going to have a keg party for you.”

Harris said that students of all class years were involved in the discussion of the completion of the new dorm during the planning phase, which ended two years ago. She encouraged students to become involved in arrangements for the new housing situation, such as meal plans and alcohol policies in the new dorm. She stressed that “we’re [the administration] willing to work with you on this,” and invited students to join a working group dedicated to arrangements for next year’s housing.