The Office of University Housing and Residential Life has changed their policy and removed all but five listings from their off-campus living directory, and apartment complexes that didn’t make the cut are left to wonder why.
Off-campus living is mandatory for juniors and seniors and optional for freshman and sophomores. Prior to February, the Office of Off-Campus Living made it their job to inspect properties throughout the city. If residences met university criteria, they were posted on the housing Web site to assist students in their search for a space. Michael Scales, director of university housing and residential life, said the focus for the Web site has changed.
“The new policy went into effect Feb. 8, 2008, and is now focused on education for those students preparing to make alternative living arrangements,” he said.
The Web site now lists five apartment complexes – Kardon-Atlantic Terminal, University Village, Oxford Village, Sydenham Commons and The Edge – and a range of educational information, from safety tips to the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Act.
Dennis Ruffing, director of community operations for York North Apartments, is one leasing operator affected by the new policy. Located at 1320 Somerville Ave., York North apartments sit near La Salle University, but Temple students take advantage of their housing, as well.
“I noticed the phones weren’t ringing as much as they were this time last year,” Ruffing said. “I really think our decline in business has to do with being removed from the Temple University off-campus housing list.
“[York North] put a significant amount of funds into accommodating Temple students, he said. “We have a shuttle that runs four times a day, and our target marketing demographic is college students, primarily Temple and La Salle students.”
When Scales was told how apartments like York North were upset with the new policy, he said, “The listing was a service, not a right. And if you are a good property manager, you should be able to get business through a different means.”
Beyond the decline in business, Ruffing said he was concerned about how the change would affect students.
“This is not about us,” he said. “I am concerned as to whether this was the best decision for the students, since they deserve to know their options.”
“I had no idea there was an Off-Campus Housing Office,” freshman environmental engineering major Leigh Cignavitch said. “[I] found a house for next year on Carlisle Street through Craigslist.”
Junior business major Sean Hushon said he knew about the office but was unaware of the recent policy shift.
“That’s ridiculous,” Hushon said. “Some of these apartments around here are pretty overpriced, and they used to offer student discounts for houses all over through the Temple office.”
Scales said he thought the decision to change the policy made was in part by the Campus Safety Services
“The buildings still listed all have similar arrangements to on-campus residence halls in terms of security [and] maintenance and are within walking distance of campus,” Scales said.
“I understand how the listings being close to campus make sense, and it should be a legit place if the university lists it,” sophomore biology major Tom Seckinger said. “But at the same time, I think students should have more options and decide themselves.”
Ruffing said he has tried to get back on the ff-campus housing list, but has not seen any changes yet.
“It’s just a matter of finding the right person to talk to,” he said.
Mary Hagenbach can be reached at email@example.com.