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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 8, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Editorial: Students need guidance with off-campus housing

A recent study conducted by the Danter Company, a private real estate company, shows that the City of Ithaca can only support 6 percent of college students from Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College. This number pales in comparison to the roughly third of Ithaca College students who live off campus.

The discrepancy is due to the lack of student-purpose housing available to accommodate this volume of college students. But while students have yet to see if more student-purpose housing will be built in the surrounding area, the difficulties in obtaining student housing for the year remain in place.

In this current situation, students must look at potential housing and sign leases nearly a year in advance just to secure a place to live. And for those who unexpectedly find themselves without on-campus housing because of the low student-to-bed ratio, the process to find a secure place to live becomes even more difficult.

For college students, living off campus is often the first time they learn about renting, including leases, subletting, landlords and rent. Given this, and given the housing crisis in Ithaca, the college should become more proactive in assisting students in finding appropriate housing. Currently, there is only a small portion of the Ithaca College website dedicated to off-campus housing, but it is not enough. And while the site covers the basics and requirements of off-campus housing, the college should not use this website as the primary means of communicating with students about living off campus. The Office of Residential Life should actively interact with students through meetings and information sessions to ensure they are knowledgeable about off-campus housing.

By contrast, Cornell University’s resources for off-campus student housing are more comprehensive, providing more than the basic information and how-to’s about obtaining off-campus housing. For instance, the university’s off-campus housing website provides information about the neighborhoods around Ithaca, questions to ask the landlord before signing a lease and even an option to search for available housing — features that are missing on the the college’s page for off-campus housing.

While the college has yet to see if more student-purpose housing will be built in the city of Ithaca to accommodate its students, those in the Office of Residential Life should take it upon itself to provide more resources for students. It would be to the benefit of the student body to have a Residential Life staff that makes an effort to ensure housing security for its students.