Response to Dickinson College's Elimination of Off Campus Housing

Dickinson announced last week that off campus housing would no longer be available for seniors starting in the next academic year.  This sparked outrage among the student body, who feel attacked by the administration for a variety of reasons, including the college’s disregard for students’ finances, their decision to single-handedly remove the remnants of our social life without so much as an explanation, and the administration’s inability to listen to the opinions of the student body. 

Arguably the most harmful part of this decision is the fact that all students must pay the expensive room and board fee, even if they simply cannot afford to pay the $65,000+ all four years of their college careers.  When calculating money saved living off-campus vs. on-campus, students and parents can save up to $10,000, which is essential for many struggling college students.  The college does not seem interested in providing a solution for those who depended on their room and board being less expensive for their last year here. 

 Our anger is not just about the finances.  Yes, the financial argument is a significant one that many students have problems with.  But this decision further confirms the fact that there is a gap in the communication between the student body and the administration.  There are plans for an elaborate $17 million dorm to be built on campus that will eliminate the need for any off-campus housing that no students really wanted.  What they should do is put freshmen in the new dorm and renovate a few dorms on the quads to provide apartments or townhouses for upperclassmen.  Instead, this dorm will house college seniors, 21 and 22 year olds, and require them to live in dorms just like the ones they lived in freshmen year.  There will be RAs who can knock on the doors of adults who are less than a year away from being thrown into the real world with real responsibilities.  A huge part of the college experience is transitioning from scared teenagers to mature grown adults, ready to live independently and provide for themselves.  I truly believe that independence cannot be achieved if a student is forced to live in dorms all four years of college.

My last problem with this new policy stems from the college’s not-so-hidden agenda of trying to limit our social lives.  Many parties occur in off-campus housing.  This year, Dickinson also completely shut down two of the five fraternities on campus and placed high restrictions on members of those groups to prevent any partying.  This new housing policy further halts the party scene at a college with an already dim social scene because we attend a small college in rural Pennsylvania.  Before this, there was not a ton to do, and now our options are diminishing even more.  If the college is going to take these things away, they must provide alternative, realistic options for students

 I’m deeply troubled by the decisions this administration has been making.  Our national ranking decreased dramatically this year, and the school I love is quickly losing popularity.  And many students I’ve talked to have started telling siblings and friends looking at colleges to avoid Dickinson.  I have a lot of school pride, but the lack of respect from the adults who we expect to give us four years of academic, social, and an overall comprehensive education makes Dickinson look bad.  One thing our student body is, is passionate; we won’t stand down and let the administration take away something we care so deeply about.  We’ll protest, we’ll voice our opinion until we are truly listened to.