Housing remains costly and inefficient | The Triangle

Housing remains costly and inefficient

An Oct. 20, 2014 article in Business Insider named Drexel University’s cost of room and board the fourth-most expensive in the country. That is hardly a surprise to Drexel students, of course — the more interesting question is, what do we get in return?

Not much, if you ask me. I need not repeat the horrors of the Drexel Campus Dining meal plan here, which are evident to anyone who has been forced to buy one. In terms of cost, the major and deeper-running problem lies with Drexel’s university housing policy — the way the school acts as our landlord for at least a year, and likely longer.

First, the obvious: it’s expensive. Prohibitively so. For someone living suite-style with a two-person bedroom, or a University Crossings apartment, four quarters of housing sum up to $13,360 a year or $1138 a month. As a friend suggested to me, you could split a one-bedroom in Center City for significantly less than that — and this is no Center City.

What about cheaper options? Drexel offers few — there are only some triple-occupancy bedrooms available per suite building, and “traditional” living, certainly the most economically efficient, is only available to freshmen.

What’s more, the cheapest option, living in a triple-occupancy traditional room in Towers Hall, is only available to freshmen in those years the dorms are overbooked. So much for planning your spending ahead.

The cost aspect is not helped at all by recent University construction efforts. The Summit, a partnership between Drexel and American Campus Communities, will take its place as one of the most expensive places to live yet. What the University doesn’t realize is that students don’t need luxury housing — students need efficient, traditional housing that is affordable.

Now, we don’t seem to realize it either, because federal loans allow the problem to be pushed off into the distant future of five years from now. My fellow students, why do you do it?

Sure, the location of on-campus is convenient. But just think about all the nonsense that you have to deal with living in a residence hall — you need an ID card to get into your own home, the University reserves the right to enter your room unannounced for maintenance purposes, the resident assistant inspects your room every quarter and there is a host of perfectly legal items Drexel has banned from the residence halls.

On top of all that, the walls are paper-thin and you might share a suite with as many as six other people.

Worse yet is the guest policy. The University advised students that they can have no more than three guests at a time, that the guests must be accompanied by the resident at all times and a guest can spend no more than three consecutive nights in the room.

The front desk also takes care to confiscate an ID card from each guest for the duration of their stay. Here’s something you didn’t know: the Drexel guest policy is illegal, in open defiance of Pennsylvania law.

The Landlord and Tenant Act clearly states: “The tenant also shall have right to invite to his apartment or dwelling unit, for a reasonable period of time, such social guest, family or visitors as he wishes so long as his obligations as a tenant under [Article 5] are observed.”

We can only wonder why Drexel does things like this to its students. They’re certainly not necessary for public safety, that favorite excuse of bad policymakers everywhere. After all, the public safety is just as secure if students could “buzz in” their guests like in regular apartment buildings, since the University does not actually restrict who can be a guest.

And as for the amount of guests — a policy which has made student events, family dinners and other important experiences difficult — surely the fact that students remain responsible for their guests allows those with troublesome guests to be held accountable. The guest policy serves no one.

One thing you won’t hear me repeat is that frequent accusation that Drexel doesn’t care. I think University Housing does care, especially resident assistants, who put a lot of work into making dorm life better, which is why I’m applying to be one myself.

But if the University wants more students to live on-campus, as it has been trying to attain aggressively, it will need to do more than run a mustache-themed advertising drive and offer students a better deal than the competition. The chief reason for low demand is that the University is simply a bad landlord.

Kim Post is a Co-Chief Copy Editor at The Triangle. He can be contacted at [email protected].