CWRU will no longer guarantee housing for upperclass students


Courtesy of CWRU Housing

CWRU students face an unforseen housing crisis as admitted class numbers reach all-time highs.

Grace Johnson and Luke Koski

On Feb. 7, students received an email announcing changes to housing for rising third and fourth-years for the fall semester, saying that many students who had expected to live in on-campus housing would no longer be able to do so. These changes were prompted by a 23% rise in admissions with the Class of 2025 compared to the preceding class. There is also an expectation for another sizable incoming class this fall semester. 

Very few specifics were given in this first email—and all following emails as well. More information is also expected in the coming weeks. 

For now, it is clear that the changes will primarily impact rising upperclassmen students. Fewer on-campus housing options will be offered to these students, and they have been encouraged to investigate off-campus options ahead of the opening of the housing application process.

Further, a waiting list will be offered to students, opening on April 5 at the conclusion of the room selection process. This will let students who are not offered on-campus living spaces an opportunity to fill spaces left by students who happen to change their plans during the spring and summer. 

However, it is unlikely a large portion of students will change their housing plans prior to fall semester of 2022, so it is unclear as to how CWRU leadership plans on ensuring students still have a place to live. They are heavily pushing an off-campus housing agenda, going so far as to include a link in their initial email to off-campus housing options for students to explore.

Students from low-income households are reliant on financial aid offered for on-campus housing. Financial aid does not always cover off-campus housing, so students are expected to come up with that money on their own if they choose to live off-campus. 

In this instance, though, living off-campus is not necessarily a choice. 

  This has left many students concerned about where they are expected to live in the fall given the level of uncertainty from campus leadership. According to their first email, a projected 17% of students that would normally live on campus will be forced to live off-campus during their third and fourth years, but that is merely a projection. If that figure rings true, the move would displace up to 600 CWRU students. 

According to a follow-up email after many students and parents expressed their dissatisfaction on this CWRU housing decision, the university is “exploring options” for increasing off-campus housing but have yet to explain what that means. They also will be “developing a hardship exception process for students unable to secure on-campus space at the conclusion of the housing lottery process,” but again did not provide details about what that will entail and who will be eligible. This email did not ease concerns for many students and has resulted in various advocacy projects.

One response to this decision has been a student-created petition, asking campus leadership to reconsider their decision, stating that CWRU is “…breaking [their] policy of guaranteed four year housing…effectively letting down all its current students.” Many feel that these changes in admissions threaten the livelihood of students in favor of higher numbers of incoming students, that “The university, in sharing the most recent update on guaranteed housing, has demonstrated its priority as accepting new students rather than maintaining the quality of undergraduate experience that its current students came to CWRU expecting.”  

The petition lists a number of reasons why this is unfair to upperclassmen students beyond the financial aid and mental health aspects, by mentioning issues such as “increased distance from classes and other university resources, lack of the presence of a student community in their accommodations, increased cost of travel to campus as well as bearing the cost of furnishing off-campus housing,” among others. 

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) endorsed this petition in their most recent email to subscribers, suggesting students sign and share it, which is atypical for the organization, showing the true gravity of the situation. Students hope that CWRU administration will think more critically about admission numbers and how this will affect current and upcoming upperclass students. 

As of Feb. 10, there are over 2,000 signatures but the number is still growing at a rapid pace. Hopefully in the next few weeks’ administration will offer more information on this issue and will be receptive to student concerns.