Numerous juniors and sophomores did not receive off-campus permission, because of expanded on-campus housing options next year, leaving many unsure of their future housing plans.
According to the Dean of Men and Women’s offices, the numbers are substantially lower for off-campus permission compared to last year. In 2016, 143 men and 110 women were allowed to live off campus. For the 2017 – 2018 academic year, however, only 82 men and 92 women have been given permission so far.
With Koon Residence set to house men instead of women next year, Dean of Men Aaron Petersen said off-campus permission is unlikely to change.
“This year I gained about 50 more beds from Koon and Park Place,” Petersen said. “At this point, we don’t plan on letting any more men off-campus. If we have beds we need to fill, then we have a fiscal responsibility to fill those beds. It’s also a benefit. Having more campus spaces to fill adds to the strong community.”
As a result, many students housing plans for next semester are uncertain. Junior Nathan Steinmeyer did not recieve off-campus permission, which affected his plans to live with friends his senior year, he said.
Dean of Women Diane Philipp said last year’s renovations to Mauck Residence forced more sophomore and juniors off campus. Now, 43 women live in Mauck, just shy of the 53-person limit.
“Mauck made a difference,” Philipp said. “More kids got off last year, because we couldn’t house all the kids from Mauck when they moved back in. There was a group that we had to put off-campus, because we couldn’t house them on campus. This year that would’ve been noticeable.”
Both Petersen and Philipp said the process of determining off-campus permission is simple and transparent for students. All students can apply to live off campus, after their freshman year. After the sign-up deadline, the registrar puts the names in a list based on graduation year and number of Hillsdale College course credits.
Philipp said the deans then go down the list to grant off-campus permission.
“The process was established a number of years ago,” Philipp said. “It was actually created by fellow students as a leadership project. The reason why we go by Hillsdale College credits is that sophomores were able to get off before some seniors because of AP and dual-enrolment credits from high school. It’s about the integrity of the office, and we want to make sure nobody thinks we’re playing favorites.”
Some women said they were only credits away from making the cut. Sophomore Haley Hauprich was one of them, and as a result, she can’t rent a house with her two friends.
“I had roommates and a house all set to go, and since we were given the impression that it was very likely we would receive permission, I didn’t really think of a back-up plan,” Hauprich said. “My two roommates ended up receiving permission, so they are doing their own thing. I was told they make the decision entirely based on how many credits you have taken. Someone who has taken just one more credit than you can receive permission, but you wouldn’t.”
While the credit scale for off-campus permission hasn’t changed, the number of students who decline to live off campus has. In 2016, 49 men declined to live on campus, leaving the administration scrambling and calling students over the summer to offer them spots. The dean’s offered nearly 100 less off-campus spots to men this year, because only nine men declined.
In addition to missing the credit cutoff, many students said living on campus is a financial burden for them.
“I only have 53 Hillsdale credits, and the girls that received off campus had maybe 60 – 62,” sophomore Katie Zelnak said. “My concern is that I cannot afford the suites, and why would I, as a junior, next year want to live in the dorms?”
Dean Philipp said the administration needs to fill all bed’s on campus to help the school’s budget and that they’re willing to help students with financial need.
“We have to make money, and we have to pay the heat bills and the maintenance,” Philipp said. “Our marching orders are to fill as many beds as we can. We’ll encourage those students who are struggling with finances to talk with financial aid for help. We have never closed that door for a student to get off-campus housing due to financial reasons.”
The majority of universities throughout the country don’t require undergraduates to get permission to live off campus, and several Hillsdale students said they think the requirement limits their opportunity to govern themselves.
“Living off campus in an independent situation is an excellent way to practice the self government that the Hillsdale administration is so eager to preach but so rarely actually allows its students to practice,” sophomore Kathleen Russo said in a message. Decreasing the on-campus requirement would be beneficial to the overall aims of the college and its purposes.”
Philipp and Petersen said they understand the frustrations of students who aren’t granted off-campus permission but that it is an opportunity to grow Hillsdale’s community.
“I would love to have everyone live on campus, because I like the community it would create,” Philipp said. “But I realize that students like to have some independence and want that experience of living in apartment with their friends.”