Moving pains

Getting off campus can get complicated

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Though the college offers off-campus MILE properties, not every student wants to live within the college ecosystem. Photo Courtesy of Muhlenberg Public Relations

As the current semester comes to a close, students are busy planning for next semester, and a major part of this includes living arrangements.

For most all this involves finding suitable roommates and hoping for a good housing lottery number. Others decided to apply to live in MILE Houses or suites in the Village, Robertson and South. However, not all Muhlenberg students want to live in College-owned housing.

“We only allow a certain number of students to live off campus each year,” explained Kate Shelley, Associate Director of Residential Services. “Because the College guarantees housing to all students for four years — which is a benefit to students and families — we require students considering living off campus to complete an application. We have to ensure that a range of our beds on campus are full in order to have a vibrant and healthy residential community on campus.”

Brenden Weiss ‘20 and Jack Avallone ‘20 both intended to live off campus for the fall semester, but their applications were ultimately denied.

“I was intending to move off campus with another baseball player and two basketball players. We had our house in place since the middle of first semester with a lease ready to be signed, all we needed was the approval to live off campus,” said Weiss. “We are still not sure of the exact reason we were denied to live off campus. Everyone who was planning to live in the house met all the requirements and we submitted our application to live off campus in time.”

The only explanation Weiss could think of for being denied was that they did not submit the application on a specific date.

For Avallone, being denied was more than just a disappointment; he and his intended roommates had already signed a lease.

“We all had sent in a security deposit of over 700 dollars in which we do not get back because we signed the lease,” Avallone said. “To get out of our lease we had to go searching for someone who would like to live in the house.”

Shelley says that the policy and related advertising instruct students not to sign a lease prior to receiving approval from ORS.

“Some students assumed that they would be approved and signed a lease prior to receiving their approval or denial. ” Shelley said. “So some of them who were denied had signed leases, but are required to live on campus per Muhlenberg Policies.”

Avallone said that they had applied through the Office of Residential Services (ORS) using the form provided.

“We were never informed that the school was going to cut down on the number of people who were going to move off campus. Now it put us into a tough situation because we had to scramble for new housing arrangements,” Avallone added.

“They give priorities to seniors who want to live off campus and then juniors.”

“Living off campus is not a right, it is an option that fewer than 10% of the campus can use in a given year,” said Shelley.  “Denials are made for a number of reasons: academic or judicial ineligibility, late applications, failure to complete necessary paperwork or training, or because there is a cap on the number and this year more students applied than could be approved.”

The latter reasoning for denials may explain Avallone and Weiss’ scenario. This does not make Avallone feel any better, however.

“The reason why we were denied to go off campus was mainly because they want more people to live on campus,” Avallone said. “They give priorities to seniors who want to live off campus and then juniors. Unfortunately it takes away from students who want to live in the privacy of their own home.”

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