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Every year, Westminster provides the opportunity for a limited number of students to live off-campus. Off campus living can be a great opportunity for student to experience more independence. It also puts a larger amount of responsibility on a student. Students become responsible for paying rent, cleaning their apartment, cooking meals, and obeying the town laws and ordinances. The following information may be helpful for students looking to take that next step to off-campus housing.

 

Who?

 

Off campus housing is open to students who have lived on a college campus for two years and have junior or senior standing (62+ credits) in the academic year in which they will reside off campus. Similar to fraternity living, off campus students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA. Off campus housing is awarded to students who meet these criteria and participate in Off Campus Lottery. Students who will be enrolled for a fifth year are released from the residency requirement.  Therefore, they are not eligible to participate in the Off Campus Lottery process.

If one member of the group is found to be ineligible based on these requirements, the entire application will be disqualified.  The lottery is conducted by class level for either individuals or single gender groups of students. The lottery allows for a limited number of men and women. The order in which students may draw will be the following:

      • Current Seniors and Senior/Senior Groups
      • Current Senior and Junior Groups
      • Current Juniors and Junior/Junior Groups
      • Current Junior and Sophomore Groups
      • Current Sophomores and Sophomore/Sophomore Group

 

A waiting list will be kept for students who participate in the lottery but do not receive permission to reside off campus. If additional off campus opportunities become available, students on the list will be contacted.

 

When?


Applications
  • Applications for 2016-2017 off campus lottery will be available online beginning November 16, 2015.
  • Applications due in Student Affairs Office no later than Friday, December 4, 2015 at 4:30 p.m.
  • To complete the application, student needs to only print and sign their name in the first column.
Notification
Recipients of off campus status will be emailed via WC email on Friday, December 11, 2015.
 

Off Campus Lottery Basics


Groups of students may not exceed three people and there are two separate processes for men and women. Each group will list the students who they intend to live with on the application. The student within this group who has the lowest lottery number will represent the group. 

The order in which groups will receive off campus permission will be based on lottery number and the total approved off campus spaces. Lottery numbers are assigned randomly by computer and are based on class status as determined by the Registrar's Office.

Any falsification of information including but not limited to class status, names of group members, number of total members in a group, or deception with the lottery numbers/process may result in a group or individual being disqualified from the Off Campus Lottery. Any deliberate deception by a group should be brought to the attention of the Student Affairs Office.

Off campus students are required to have a lease on file with the Student Affairs Office. Leases are due by June 1. Failure to submit a lease will affect off campus status.

The College reserves the right to assess room and board charges to students who choose to reside off campus without first receiving permission from the College. Keep in mind that receiving permission to live off campus is different from commuting. A commuter student is one to who lives at home with at least one parent. To commute, a student's permanent address needs to be within reasonable driving distance of the college, and the parent must submit a letter to the college stating the student will be living at home while attending Westminster. A commuting status will affect a student's financial aid package.

Why does Westminster College restrict the number of of students living off-campus?


Westminster prides itself on being a small residential liberal arts college The College provides an intimate community where students are encouraged to get involved in campus life and interact with faculty and staff on a regular basis. Expecting students to live on campus ensures this part of the educational mission is realized. National studies show that students who live on campus perform better academically, are more likely to graduate in our years, and are more involved in the campus community.

 

How does the College determine how many students to allow to live off-campus?


Originally, students were permitted to live off-campus only when the College had more students than space in the residence halls. However, as the College continues to build more housing for students on campus, the Off-Campus Lottery may be modified.

Berlin Village provides students with the independence and amenities of apartment-style housing, as well as the conveniences of on-campus living.

 

Why does Westminster use a lottery system for off-campus living?


As the numbers of students who expressed interest in apartment living increased, the lottery became a logical extension of the on-campus housing selection process. The lottery gives each student the same chance as all of the others, and no individual or group of students get preferential treatment. The Student Affairs Office has investigated the off-campus sign-up procedures at other institutions, and ours tends to be the most often used and fairest method.

 

What about students who live off-campus "illegally"?


The College goes to great length to ensure that all students play by the rules. This includes requiring written statements by parents, meeting directly with students, and verifying their residential status through Borough records. Unfortunately, despite our efforts some individuals know how to beat the system. When students misrepresent their housing status to the College, they are robbing other students of opportunities to live off-campus. Rest assured that anyone found living off-campus without permission would be subject to judicial action by the College. Sanctions include repaying the College for lost room and board. That's a lot.

The following are things to keep in mind as you are looking at possible off-campus living options.

I. Basic Lease Information


The purpose of a lease is to outline the terms of the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. A written lease protects both the landlord and the tenant. Things to look for in a lease:

  • length of lease
  • amount of rent
  • responsibility for utilities
  • responsibility for maintenance

II. Security Deposit


If you damage the unit in excess of normal wear and tear, the landlord may deduct from your security deposit the cost to repair the damage. You will want to document the condition of the unit when you sign the lease, and/or first take occupancy.

III. Town Laws and Ordinances


By choosing to live off-campus, you face challenges and responsibilities different from the college residence halls. You will not only be a student of Westminster College, but also a citizen of the borough of New Wilmington. With that new status, come certain responsibilities as well as privileges.

  • Noise - the level of noise from a unit is not to exceed a certain level beyond the property line
  • Property - snow must be removed, grass cut
  • Animals - must be leashed, licensed, and are also subject to noise ordinances
  • Alcohol - providing alcohol to minors, selling without a licence, host liability
  • Parking - no street to use of parking lots for overnight parking
  • Occupancy - no more than 3 unrelated people may occupy a single unit

IV. Friendly Suggestions


Here are some ideas to make your quest for Off-Campus housing a whole lot easier!

  • Visit the borough office. (Across from Alice’s Pizza, behind the Fire Station) They are able to provide lists of landlords, and contact information. The borough can also provide utility estimates for units and properties in town.
  • Get to know your neighbors.
  • What can you afford?
  • Register to vote, and make your presence in the community count.
  • Sort out money and responsibilities with roommates EARLY.