At this point in the year, next year’s seniors have settled their housing leases, and upcoming juniors are imagining the wonderful living that awaits them on West Campus.
By mid-September, though, they too will follow the panicked ritual: finding affordable, convenient and legal housing in the surrounding townships.
Take it from house-hunting veterans: the biggest challenge at Villanova may not be searching for a job, but determining what housing possibilities remain once all the township rules are deciphered.
First, you have to determine with whom to live. Students may live with no more than two or three unrelated roommates (depending on the township). Then is the question of where – you can’t just pick any property you’d like. Student-approved housing is rare, and residences cannot live within a quarter mile of other student residences. After the exhaustive search is over, you’re hit with reality – that monthly rent doesn’t come cheap, especially when decent, approved housing is such a rare commodity in these parts.
Does it have to be this hard? No.
Radnor, Haverford, Lower Merion and Conshohocken townships have established these countless ordinances to target college students directly.
The town ordinances stem from disrespect; townships claim students are disrespectful; they park illegally and are too loud. Instead of enforcing generally applicable laws to solve these specific problems, though, the communities turned their backs on the situation to find an easy – yet unfair and equally disrespectful – solution.
That solution, of course, is the overarching system of housing codes and ordinances. The townships occasionally make exceptions, but for the most part, this system further hurts students’ relationships with the community.
With so many rules, landlords know that students are disadvantaged when searching for housing. They are able to raise prices much higher than the properties are worth. Many properties are outdated; students turn to these inadequate spots as places to call home. Students deserve better than to be cheated, but the ordinances make it easy for landlords to take advantage of students’ desperation.
The townships easily forget the capital that Villanova students bring to the area and local businesses, capital that adds to the prosperity and subsequent high rental prices of the area.
There are ongoing attempts to make on-campus housing available to more seniors, but with this economy, no one expects new land acquisition anytime soon. Villanova doesn’t leave seniors alone, though, reviewing housing leases and providing information.
Villanova has done a lot to help community relations, too; scheduling SGA forums, offering free classes to senior citizens and granting community neighbors access to the Davis Center.
Hopefully, the community will take advantage of the University’s generosity and learn that Villanova students deserve more respect than the draconian housing laws afford us.