“We know this is not the email you had hoped to receive right before Good Friday,” an email from Housing Services and Residence Life read, sent out last Thursday, March 24. This email informed 106 of the 227 Wheaton students — nearly half — who applied that their request for off-campus housing had been denied.
In the email, Housing Services and Residence Life stated that the limited number of off-campus approvals depends on retention rates, transfers, new students, study abroad participants and other variables. An additional 36 beds on campus from the new duplexes have also “made an impact on the numbers this year,” according to Residence Life.
Many of the 106 students denied off campus housing are rising seniors, including at least four groups of four students that have already signed the lease for their intended off campus residence.
Rising seniors Anders Rotto, James Goth, Ben Bakke and Danny Bremer-Bennett signed a lease several months ago and were “shocked” when they received the email saying they were denied off-campus housing for the upcoming year. For the past three years, the group has been looking forward to the often cheaper and more spacious option of off-campus living, but now will be forced to live in an on-campus apartment for their final year at Wheaton.
“It’s basically a foregone conclusion that seniors would get off-campus housing,” Rotto said, who is the sports editor of The Record. He explained that nearly all senior groups applying to live off campus sign a lease months in advance. Rotto said that the landlord of the townhouse that the group planned to live in has been renting to Wheaton seniors for 12 years and has “never had an issue like this.”
Students applying for off-campus housing were not informed that Housing Services would likely be approving only half of the off-campus requests. Due to this lack of communication, Rotto’s group and at least four other groups will be forced to go back on their leases and contracts while also sorting out how to pay for the often more expensive on-campus housing options.
A housing contract is a legally binding document, and the possibility of cancelling a contract depends on the good graces of the landlord. Rotto says that his group paid a $550 deposit already and may need to spend upwards of $10,000 if they need to pay for both a townhouse lease and on-campus housing.
Students who were denied off-campus housing but already signed a lease were informed that there might be more chances for them to obtain off-campus permission as the school plans to “assess (their) off-campus numbers a few more times before the end of the year.”
Associate dean of residence life Justin Heth suggested to some students that he would reach out personally to negotiate with the potential landlords of students who are in tight spots. Heth also encouraged the groups to sign up for on-campus housing.
“Instead of working on my classes, I’ve had to meet with housing and write emails to Housing about why our group should be off-campus,” said Rotto. His group tried to appeal to Housing Services, but was denied on Wednesday.