Senior Status No Longer an Accepted Exemption for Off-Campus Housing

Senior Status No Longer an Accepted Exemption for Off-Campus Housing

In a Campus Updates email on Feb. 2, University Dean of Student Affairs, Donna Eddleman, informed students of Resident Life and Housing’s updated Off-Campus Housing petition process.

To many university students’ dismay, she assured students that the only off-campus petitions that will be reviewed for the 2022-2023 academic year will be those submitted by students who meet at least one of the following criteria: 

  • Live with a parent or guardian within thirty miles of campus
  • Are enrolled in the university part-time 
  • Are younger than 16 years of age or older than 23 years of age
  • Are legally married or in a registered domestic partnership 

Prior to the 2022-2023 applications, students who met “senior status,” earning no less than 89 credits, and maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.25 alone met the criteria for off campus housing consideration. 

The Residence Life and Housing page on the University of Redlands website reflects this change, stating that the “senior status” exception “will not be considered in the determinations for the 2022-2023 academic year.”

Photo by Michael Driscoll

It is evident given the updated policy that the university has essentially made it impossible for many students who had previously been eligible for off-campus housing under their “senior status” to maintain their eligibility. 

For students currently eligible and/or interested, more information regarding the updated off-campus petition process can be found here. 

For the majority of students who are no longer eligible for the off-campus petition, these updated requirements for eligibility are cause for concern.

One graduating senior, Stephanie Shen, when asked about her thoughts on these changes, outlined the financial strain this policy will put on current and future students here at the university. 

Shen commented that “living on campus is incredibly expensive, especially during the summer months, when students may be looking to stay in Redlands for an internship or work opportunity. Combined with the mandatory meal plan, it is several thousands of dollars more to live on campus than to live in a house off campus.”

Another student, Chloe Barr ‘23, commented on the university’s lack of communication with students when deciding to no longer allow students who meet “senior status” to be eligible to submit off-campus housing petitions. 

The third year remarked that “If [the administration] want[s] to make the University of Redlands a desirable place to attend, they need to give us more options and say in matters.” 

This is not the first time students have voiced their concern regarding the university’s off-campus petition policy. Following nearly a year and a half of virtual classes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students petitioned for off-campus housing as the school returned to in-person classes in Fall 2021. To many students’ surprise, all petitions submitted by students with “senior status” were denied. 

Student protests emerged across social media platforms, calling for the university to re-evaluate their decision. 

One student, Jonah Brownell ‘22, took action, creating a petition through change.org calling for the university to reverse its decision to deny all “senior status” off-campus petitions. Here, Jonah outlined the gravity of the university’s decision:

“Senior students who have been living off-campus for the past year… are now required to change their established living plans… and pay the excessively over-priced on-campus dorm fees rather than the off-campus rent they had already budgeted for the year ahead, ALL BECAUSE OF A UNILATERAL DECISION MADE BY THE UNIVERSITY OF REDLANDS WITH NO INPUT, CONSULT OR CONSIDERATION OF THE STUDENTS IN QUESTION.”

The petition came as a last-ditch effort to convince the university to reverse its blanket denial of off-campus petitions for students with senior status after both parent and student attempts to have the decision reconsidered were unsuccessful. 

The petition circulated social media, gaining a total of 1,466 signatures from students, parents, faculty members, alumni, and other individuals connected to the University of Redlands community. Many individuals took the time to voice their concerns and outrage over the university’s last minute decision. 

Hank Waddles commented that “the university is hiding behind a disingenuous claim of concern for student well-being when it knows that this decision benefits the university and not students.” 

On a similar note, Micheal Mindnich wrote “this [decision] is not making people want to join the Redlands community, it is making them resentful of the university and administration.”

In an email addressing the change.org petition and student outrage, University Dean of Affairs Donna Eddleman clarified that “the criteria listed in the [off-campus petition] policy, including “senior status,” have never meant automatic approval of a petition; they have only been factors contributing to the outcome.” 

College of Arts and Sciences students and families were assured that concerns and appeals would be addressed on a case-by-case basis. 

Though students were granted an appeal process following prompt denial of “senior status” off-campus petitions last fall, the updated off-campus petition policy published by the university’s Residence Life and Housing assures students that “There is no appeal for this process. Once a decision is rendered, students must wait until the following spring to submit a new petition.” 

The absence of an appeal process seems to further suggest that the university is becoming increasingly strict about its on-campus housing requirement. 

The Redlands Bulldog reached out to Cassandra Morton, Associate Dean of Affairs and Director of Residence Life and Housing, for a comment on these changes. Morton could not be reached for comments, however. 

The Interim Chief Communications Officer and Director of Media Relations and University Communications, Stephanie Johnson, when asked to comment said that “this change [to the off-campus petition process] was implemented more than a year ago, and while some expressed disappointment, ​living on campus enhances a liberal arts education, and is often a defining experience at the University of Redlands.”  

Photo contributed by Bulldog photographer Michael Driscoll.