Frustrations Over New Housing Policy at Susquehanna University

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SELINSGROVE--About 2,200 students attend Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove. Around 100 seniors live off campus as well as some commuters, but next fall, university officials say those rules will change.

"The policy basically says that we will not be releasing any additional students off campus," Chief Communications Officer Angela Burrows said.

University officials say in the past, students were allowed to live off campus because the school did not have the capacity to house everyone on campus. But now that Susquehanna University has additional residence halls, almost all students will be required to live on campus.

Susquehanna University is not the only school to implement these rules. Lycoming College and Bucknell University both have similar housing policies in place.

"We believe that learning takes place in the residence halls, on campus during activities, as much as it does in the classroom. It's part of the philosophy. We state it up front. Students are aware of that coming in," Burrows said.

Even so, many students say they think the new policy is unfair.

"I think they're hurting a lot of the older student body. I live off campus now and I've definitely learned the responsibility of preparing my own meals, paying my own meals and living on a budget," Andrew Doupe said.

"I've learned to cook, I've learned to do everything on my own, my laundry. Once I graduate I'm not going to have somebody holding my hand for the rest of my life," Daniel Kinney said.

Daniel Kinney says he signed an online petition protesting the housing policy change. So far that petition has around 550 signatures.

"I did sign it, just because I don't think it's fair that students don't have this opportunity anymore," Kinney said.

"Some of us can't afford to live on campus so I guess this is where the unfair comes in," David Kouf said.

According to Susquehanna University officials, students will pay just over $51,000 a year to attend the private school this fall, with close to $11,000 of that covering room and the meal plan.


  • joncraft84

    Reblogged this on Handicap and commented:
    If people don’t want to live on campus they shouldn’t go to a campus that requires them to live on campus! That’s the choice they make. But that’s a choice they make every quarter they sign up. They can choose to go to a different college if you don’t want too. They can drive can’t they and they can also walk. And so they can pick a different college. I know they might get scholarships and if they do they are stuck wherever they get the most scholarship money and they knew that before they signed a contract. Why is this on the news anyway? Why is crap like this on the news anyway when we have people risking their lives over seas and thy’re not mentioned at all that’s ridiculous! In my opinion. Sorry for this outburst but then again I’m not. As always you followers no matter what I say or how I say it you followers will always be in my prayers. Jon

  • Delta

    This school is a shadow of what it was back in 2002 when I attended. I was forced to live on campus my senior year. Worst year of my life. Completely destroyed my entire college experience. I have never donated/nor will donate a penny. The place is dead to me.

    At least prospective students can now see the type of concentration camp they are planning to attend.

    It’s all about money and control.

    • SUstudent

      It seems unfair, irrational, and insensitive to compare having to live on campus to concentration camps. It’s unfortunate that you had such an awful experience, but as a current student at SU, I am in no way unhappy with this predicament. People knew that it could come to this – especially when SU built residences for students – and no one is being forced to stay, tortured, or starved (as in actual concentration camps). They’re simply being asked to live in the buildings that SU has bought specifically for them.

  • A View from the Other Side

    As a 2012 graduate of Susquehanna, who lived off campus as a senior, I can say, without a doubt, that I would have been far better off had I been forced to live on campus all four years.

    I was around at school when we first heard rumors of what Susquehanna was trying to do with off campus housing…basically their attempts to eliminate the option all together. Truthfully, I was sad, angry, upset, and confused at first. Each year I was at SU the number of students released off campus dwindled. So much so that by the time the housing lottery came around for my senior year, I was unsure as to if I would even be released to live in off campus housing. As it turns out, I was released and so started the most stressful and unhappy year of my college career.

    Part of being a student at SU is being involved…in something, anything. Whether it be athletics, clubs, activities, organizations, etc. I didn’t know anyone that wasn’t involved in something. I happened to be an athlete, which required my presence on campus almost daily year round for practices and training. If I lived on campus, I would have already been there for these practices and training. I can’t claim that coming a mere mile from my apartment to campus was that much of a hassle though. It was the amount of other time I spent on campus, which really made the difference. I had a full course load, in a difficult curriculum. Also, being undecided on a major until Spring of sophomore year will fill your junior and senior year schedule to the brim to graduate on time. On top of that, I was granted a certain amount of work-study money via financial aid. As someone paying for their own, hoitey toitey, private school education, I needed to earn every penny I could while still in school, so I held between 3-4 jobs in my senior year. I basically lived on campus, except for the glaring fact that my bed was off campus in an apartment. Wake up, go to campus, study, class, eat, class, class, practice, eat, work, work, study, study, study, go home and sleep. That was my schedule. My waking hours on campus, my sleeping hours off campus. Strike one for off campus housing.

    All these petitioners and naysayers keep bringing up the fact that living off campus allows students the ability to learn responsibility with cooking their own meals, paying bills, doing laundry, etc. That is quite possibly the biggest load of s*** I have ever heard in my entire life. I can’t speak for every off campus student for my time at SU, but I can speak for the vast majority in saying that they were some of the most irresponsible people at the school. Don’t let them fool you into thinking they wanted these private, off campus locations for the greater good of their real life education. They wanted a party house….whether it was for football, soccer, rugby, baseball, softball, basketball, or track. Pick any house on the 200-400 block of Orange street, the warehouse, or the manor. There would be a party house. And you think students learned responsibility in these “homes”. HAHAHA. I went to my share of parties in college, frequenting some establishments more than others, but I can tell you that not one of the party houses I went into was in any way shape or form clean, taken care of, or cared about. You think they cook there? They go get fast food. Or they get on campus food and bring it home anyway. You think they pay their bills? Wrong, mommy and daddy open up their wallets and feed them the money. You think these are places where learning and studying take place? Possibly, occasionally, if it’s a Monday or if a midterm or final was coming up. In reality these are places they slack off, hook up, play games, and get drunk….all outside the watchful eyes of the university, how convenient for them right? Strike two for off campus housing.

    Now this is where I may speak from personal experience only, though I highly doubt it. Let’s just say you really don’t know people until you live with them. In order to live off campus I had to be issued a refund from the school to pay for rent, utilities, and other costs associated with where I lived. I got a loan, which paid the school, and the school issued a portion back to me. Basically they refunded me the amount I would have paid for room and board had I lived on campus, via a lump sum payment at the beginning of the semester and I lived off of that for the semester. I still had a meal plan (as said before, I basically lived on campus anyway and between practice and extensive homework and studying and work…who has time to cook their own healthy meal?) Before agreeing to live off campus with my “friends” however, we made estimates of our costs. We knew how much rent would be, that was a flat rate. There was also electricity (we got estimates from the previous year’s tenants), water/sewer (estimated from the landlord), and other commodities to consider. When it came down to it, we agreed as a group that we wouldn’t go over $xxx/month, which gave me some leeway in case a few months went over in certain areas. Responsible right? I thought so. Of course nothing went as planned. We ended up getting cable and internet (I didn’t need the cable, but agreed to it as it was lumped with the internet charge). Needless to say electricity bills were off the charts due to AC being blasted in the summer and heat cranked up in the winter. All my roommates had to do was ask mom and dad for a few extra $$$. I asked for a few extra hours at my work study jobs to cover the margin. I realize this is real life (and also why I will never live with another person that is not a significant other again), but I approached them as adults on several occasions to no avail. Each semester I came out of pocket for these costs…thus, paying more than I would have had I actually just lived on campus. I had other friends, living in other houses, with other people, who had the same issues. Strike three off campus housing.

    Need I go on? Why didn’t you just live alone you say? Yeah, you try finding a single apartment anywhere that’s safe and more affordable than living on campus. I realize that not every situation is or was like mine, but I firmly believe that an on campus home is truly the best option for this institution. They have the space, they may as well use it. I can’t speak for the recently built/renovated housing that SU added, but I lived in a West Village suite as a junior, which provided a full size refrigerator, stove, microwave, and kitchen cabinets along with a kitchen table and chairs, living area with couches and a coffee table, two single rooms, one double room, and a shared bathroom….what else could you possibly need? Oh, forgive me, you want a place you can go underage drink, fool around, and be out of sight of public safety and the RAs. Forgive me, but your complaints are invalid.

    • alum13

      Very well said. I agree 100% with everything you said. Thank you for soaking up about your experiences.

    • MJ

      I am a 2009 graduate of SU and I agree with EVERYTHING you said – I chose to live on campus all 4 years and I am so glad I did.

    • E

      Maybe your view from the other side should have been at a school you could afford. Maybe you shoild have figured out what you wanted to major in before you were halfway done with school. Maybe you shouldn’t have been on a sports team if you couldn’t handle the pressure of D3 athletics.

    • A View from the Other Side

      As valedictorian of my high school while participating in 3 varsity sports and being enrolled in advanced placement, honors, and college-preparatory courses….the stress of being involved in a D3 sport while holding a full course load and several work study jobs wasn’t out of my tolerance for stress. This experience merely reinvested my devotion to time management that I learned while in high school. Being so successful in high school also aforded me quite the scholarships, grants, and federal aid…so attending a so praised private school like SU, wasn’t out of reach for me financially. For as school that average around $43K per year while I was in attendance and coming out with only about $35K in debt, I would say I did pretty well. As for being undecided in my major for so long, well being successful and good at nearly every subject in high school makes it pretty hard to choose a major in college. Naturally a student will lean towards that which they excel at. Well, to be honest, I was pretty good at a lot of things, which made it a little difficult.

      So my view from the other side is that of a student who could afford SU, who easily handled the stressors of being involved at my college, and who didn’t rush into a decision about a major that was wrong for me. I did just about everything right prior to and while in college…except of course for my decision to live off campus senior year, which after all, is what my concerns and opinions were about….why living off campus at this university was a poor choice for me and a poor choice for a lot of students due to their motives for doing so, their actions while off campus, and the inconvenience of the situation.

    • Bianca Bradley

      51 grand for tuition and about 11 thousand of that is for room and board? You can have that much cheaper by having roomates, and getting your own food.

      You can still have a rich college experience without living on campus. As for underage drinking, get a grip, most if not everyone does it. If you think that drinks aren’t being snuck on campus, think again. You go to to college for the most part you are 18, so fooling around is a given.

      People need to realize that there are other options for college and they don’t need to go so deep in debt for the “college experience”. The real reason that you aren’t allowed to live off campus, is so the college can soak up yet more of your money.

  • James

    Angela Burrows, Thank You for allowing me to cross off your University from my son’s list. Your policy is insane and is all about money. Anyone that has ever been exposed to University life knows this. Have a good day.

  • SUstudent

    I’d like to start by saying THIS ISN’T A NEW “POLICY.”
    The amount of people who can live off campus simply changes on a yearly basis. It is determined by calculating how many students are enrolled, will transfer in and out, and will be coming into the freshmen class. Once the university has this number (or an estimation) for the following year, they can determine how many students they can AFFORD to let live off campus. Susquehanna has a certain number of living spaces (which they have paid for), and if they don’t fill them, how can they possibly make up the money they spent on the investment or have enough money to run the university as it ought to be run? The truth is, while Susquehanna has more places to live than there are students, then off-campus living will not be an option. However, in the event that enrollment is higher than this coming year (high enough to require extra living space), students will be allowed to live off-campus.

    If Susquehanna did purchase the 18th street commons to keep students on campus and make them pay more to the university, can you blame them? The economy isn’t thriving by any means, which can be seen in the tuition spike this year. I enrolled as a “first year student” when tuition was around $49,000, and it’s going to be $51 next year, but that’s how it is everywhere. Schools are being forced to ask for more money from students as they try to stay afloat and provide the same services they’ve always tried to. Yes, there are cheaper schools, but that’s not really the issue here. We all chose to go to Susquehanna, and we knew going into it (or if you were educated enough on the economy you would have known) that schools are struggling like everyone else, and we, as students, would have to give more to get more. And so the world turns.

    Letting students live off campus this year would only hurt the university and the students attending. If Susquehanna let people live off campus while there are unused living spaces available, tuition would skyrocket. That’s all there is to it. They need to make money like everyone else, and we need to accept that or go somewhere else. It is unfortunate that this can’t be an option for students next year. But as a current student at SU, I can honestly say that I am against any protestation. I would rather pay a little more myself (as the average college student is doing each year) than make everyone on campus pay so much more because I want to live off campus.

    You think it’s hard to be forced to stay on campus? Imagine being forced to leave because your tuition spikes. Yes, some people cannot afford tuition now. It’s really expensive. But you knew that coming in. You knew that tuition fluctuates and that you could end up paying more. Anyone who chooses a university like Susquehanna — a non-profit private school that subsists on alumni donations and capital reserves — needs to understand the implications of that choice. Many of you clearly do not.

  • Money scam

    Can’t wait to have a 19 year old babysitter as a 21 year old! Way to go SU! Not donating one penny to this school as an alum

    • alum13

      RAs are not babysitters. If you are 21 you ate allows to drink on campus, peeks of being a wet campus. Just don’t be stupid and you won’t have to deal with them

      • isthiswhatcollegeisteachingyou?

        Maybe instead of focusing so much attention on the housing policy some of these SU students should crack open a book once in a while. The consistent appearance of grammatical errors (beyond the typos) in each post is really concerning. Spell check does not replace proofreading folks.

  • alum

    This is not a new policy, it has always been in place because of being a residential University. My problem with people complaining about this is that most of the people complaining won’t pay 51k a year with financial aid and scholarships. I went to SU because I loved the University and the dynamics of it. I had no help what so ever from my parents and paid my way through college. I had thoughts of transferring my second year because of my finances but I didn’t want to leave this wonderful place so I made a way to stay and I lived on campus all for years. Yes I’ll be in debt for awhile but I know people who have gone to a state school that are twice as much in debt than I am and they lived off campus for three years. If you are truly unhappy with the University then you should transfer because not only did they provide me with a great education but they did everything they could to prepare me for the “real” world. And maybe it was the fact that I had to mature much quicker in college for the real world because of the fact that I provide everything for myself but the school is not suppose to hand everything to you so it can be easy. They provide you with the resources, you as an adult must go to those resources to take advantage of them. I have a full time job and am living on my own, paying back my loans isn’tfun but I’d have to do it regardless of where I went. You are paying for a great insitution with a heart warming and personal President who is willing to hear your concerns. What University isnt money driven? They are essentially a business and provide jobs for many people in this small town. Please don’t make this old housing policy take away from the place you call your second home or for some their first and only home.

  • Really SU?

    As both an SU alum and Selinsgrove area community member, I find this really disappointing. The businesses (as well as landlords) in the Selinsgrove borough really thrived on the students. Now that all students have to live on campus with a meal plan, area restaurants will be suffering since students will likely not want to spend more money on food since they are forced to have an on-campus meal plan. Some landlords rent to SU students as their FULL source of income. To these people, they have essentially just lost their jobs. Who is going to live in those empty rentals now? Let’s not forget that SU purchased Pine Meadows (a low-income housing unit) and forced its occupants to find places to live elsewhere. All so they could force students to live there.

    Some of the best times I had at SU took place at off-campus homes of students. The only lessons I learned in the dorms were that you had NO privacy, you could be written up for drinking in your own suite although you were 21 and forget ever getting a good night’s sleep!

  • Stephanie Stewart

    @frustratedoverfrustration What bubble are you living in? I’m a recent graduate from Susquehanna and I’m struggling to pay my loans back. Haven’t landed my “dream job” in the 11 months I’ve been out but still am required to pay my loans back after 6. And if I recall there were multiple assaults on campus last year that were covered up by susquehannas very own public safety department. Ask around about the day a truck full of men drove on campus chasing students around west village parking lot with baseball bats. I witnessed it from MY DORM. Not all that safe huh?

  • Ss

    A student living in a dorm never has to worry about the safety of the structure of the building. Snow removal, lawn maintenance, outside lighting , heating, cooling and running water are not a worry. My adult children have lived in both set ups and the problems as a parent that I have known about in non campus student housing have made my skin crawl. If there are good landlords, good law/ building code enforcement and access to services in the community that the college is present are important. Transportation is another important consideration. Selinsgrove has a good law enforcement but beyond that I personally have experienced some shady character landlords .

    • real world

      “A student living in a dorm never has to worry about the safety of the structure of the building. Snow removal, lawn maintenance, outside lighting , heating, cooling and running water are not a worry.” All things an adult needs to learn. As well as dealing with landlords and contracts, this is all part of becoming an adult. Cant coddle your children forever.

  • Alum

    I do see everyone’s point, to be fair I’m pretty sure upperclassmen in the newer housing will have a full kitchen and can opt out of the meal plan if they like, so that reduces the cost somewhat . Regardless, it’s still much cheaper to live off campus and the style of living and responsibility is much closer to what students will experience once they graduate. I’m not really sure why SU is implementing this policy, maybe it’s because it will get rid of parties off of campus and lessen the chance of alcohol related incidents. Instead they’ll just have college students drinking in their dorms or campus apartments, causing damage to SU property instead of someone else’s.

      • Alumna

        Just so you know, students who live in the 18th Street Commons or Liberty Alley are not required to have meal plans.

        I fully understand why you all are so irritated, but the students who are rising seniors came to the university with this policy already planned to be in place since 2012 and they should have already known that this was coming, so it should not be a surprise.

  • RLB52811

    I did not attend this university, but I did attend both a strictly commuter college & a college with the option to dorm. I chose to commute even to the college that offered dorms because it was much cheaper, & still not too far away to be a realistic approach. I am very sad to see that several schools are mandating living on campus. It just proves that furthering your education is really not about education at all… it is ALL about money. College should be a journey of hard work to allow you to attain a degree to get a job in your field of interest. Commuting should ALWAYS be an option.. & the only requirement should be that you attend your classes & do the work on time without cheating. But instead, it seems that this (& the other schools mentioned) have made it about getting the parent(s) of students in attendance to fund $50.000/yr+ to pay for the additional housing expenses & meal plans on top of the already pricey classes at approx $500-800/credit on average. Or, for students in cases like my own, where the parents are not in a financial place to fully fund a college education out of their pockets, to force the student to take out student loans that become SO HIGH that they graduate & 6 months later owe $1000+/month to attempt to pay back the loans. How is a university that forces their students into bills like that 6 months after graduation even providing an education worth attaining? Sorry, but (especially in this area) MOST of the degrees people are graduating with pay NO WHERE NEAR enough to finance student loan bills that high while still allowing anything extra for rent, car insurance, car payments, other miscellaneous bills, or.. ummm.. GROCERIES!!! When did our freedom of choice go down the drain to the point of not even being able to choose where you live or what you eat??? That kind of sounds like a very expensive prison experience to me…. I, for one, do not think that the “dorm experience” of dealing with a roommate (or roommates) that you may or may not get along with, (that might keep VERY different hours than you do & hinder your ability to progress in your studies) is for everyone. Sharing bathrooms, laundry facilities, & having nothing but a mini fridge & microwave to make your own food choices that stray from the “meal plan” is just not going to work for every person. Ramen noodles, mac & cheese, & hot dogs is not a healthy diet for the 4-6+ years you’re going to be enrolled in college. And, how on earth are these universities justifying telling people that are over the age of 18 that this is a requirement?!? What about people with children?? Are they just not allowed to attend? And, has it occurred to no one that it is extremely beneficial psychologically to a traditional college student (age 18-19) to learn how to manage basic life skills such as cooking, laundry, budgeting finances to cover bills, & learning proper time management skills by juggling a job, homework, getting to their classes timely & all the other day to day things we face so that they don’t exit college with a degree & NO clue of how to take care of themselves? Having a bachelors/masters/doctorate must make someone really proud if their convenient mandatory housing/meal plan allowed no opportunity to see what REAL life was like outside of living at mom & dad’s; & graduation meant moving back home because you have no clue how to make it on your own. This policy is absurd. I am less proud all the time to be living in this “wonderful country” … it is not a free country by any means. More rights are being taken away every day… I can say for certain that I would NEVER send my children to a college or university that mandated these things. I want to see my children learn how to be RESPONSIBLE for themselves .. not take their classes & have everything handed to them… that teaches NOTHING of value.

  • Lynn Ann

    As a parent I am very disappointed Living off campus is so much cheaper than the housing on campus. In addition my daughter hates the food on campus and it kills me to pay for a mandatory plan with no flexibility. Seniors should not be mandated to live on campus. They have already endured continual raises in the tuition and housing costs and should certainly be able to find less expensive alternatives for housing their final year. The difference in rental prices and campus housing is substantial. It appears to me the students are paying for the schools inability to enroll enough freshmen. I suggest the marketing department looks into the incredibly high tuition, incredibly bad food, worst I have ever had on a college campus, and the restrictive housing policy if they want to see increased interest. My second daughter attends a school in North Carolina, better weather, has an apartment on campus with a full kitchen and washer & dryer, Fabulous food choices, Division one sports and still has small classroom sizes. I pay considerably less. Only Freshmen and sophmores are mandated to live on campus and they are building brand new housing continually because enrollment is growing.

  • Dick Van Dyke

    @frustrated because of frustration: On campus housing is to keep students “safe?” That’s crap. There are far more assaults on campus than off campus. Get with the program.

  • All for the $$$

    This policy is ridiculous. Charging students that much to live in a small dorm room with crappy cafeteria food when they could be living in their own house cooking their own meals for half that much. I loved SU as much as the next person, however I am extremely disappointed with this decision. Expect to lose some generous donations from this alumni.

  • Rose

    Dorm life is not for everybody. Some students have medical conditions or psychological/learning issues like Attention deficit disorder. These students will do better living in a quieter environment. back in the 90s when I was in college. .most of the pre-med or pre-law students got studio apartments off campus sophomore year so they could focus more on their studies.

  • Fratboy

    Don’t like it. Go a different school. Better yet, join the military. Learn what dorm life is really like.

  • KellyVK

    As a former alumni of SU, I’m appalled at this policy. You know what I learned on campus? How to schedule my classes around our favorite soap opera, not to let leave your clothes drying in the hallway because you can’t trust your dorm mates, how to make Mac and cheese on a hot plate, that flip flops are essential unless you favor planters warts…you get the idea. This is all about sucking even more money out of young adults who are only trying to build a future. I could never afford to go to SU now and that makes me sad because I received an excellent education there but more importantly life lessons both on and OFF campus.

  • A Lum

    Not even ten years ago, colleges didn’t require you to purchase the meal plan either if you lived on campus. $1,500 for a four month semester’s food is ridiculous. You could probably afford lobster more than once a week with that money.

  • Yippee

    Hey it’s not just about the money the university makes but there is something else…

    Who is going to move into the rentals? Better hire more officers!

  • cory

    I can’t even imagine that anyone would be dumb enough to pay 51,000 dollars a year for tuition and housing. MY daughter will graduate as an RN in less than a year and will not have spent all together that much money. Kids will never get out of that debt.

  • Embarrassed Alumni

    It is literally all about the money here. SU bought up housing around the area specifically to force everyone to live on campus and squeeze every dollar possible out of them. Falls right in line with the $50-100 parking tickets they give out. And then they try to play it off like its for the students’ benefit. Learning takes place in the dorms? The only thing you learn in a dorm is how to share a ridiculously small area with a stranger and how to try to get sleep with 150 people screaming on a Friday night. Get real SU. What learning programs is the woman even talking about? I lived in the dorms for three years and the only “programs” that were offered in the dorms were movie nights and pizza parties. Forgive me if I feel learning to pay an electric bill on time is more valuable than decorating a bulletin board in the hallway. At least Decker knows what he’s talking about. I wonder if they’ll realize their mistake when the 2,200 students enrolled starts dwindling. But then again, they’ll probably just raise tuition again and wouldn’t even notice. SU certainly won’t be getting any support from this alum, I’m embarrassed at how ridiculous the school looks from all this. Oh, and good luck to the poor landlords and real estate people who made a living renting properties to the students in the area, try to justify it to them.

  • A Frustrated Student

    “Learning takes place in residence halls”? Excuse me what? The only thing I learned in my residence hall was that 4 showers are not enough for an entire floor of college guys. The school really needs to stop trying to play it off that they’re doing it for us and just admit they’re doing it for the money. I will be in debt for the next 20 years because I go to this school, the least you xould do is let me live where I want.

  • kelism87

    This is such a bogus policy. The university is clearly in need of cash and they are going to force these kids into even more debt in order to do it…$51K a year? I graduated from West Chester University in 2009 with about $65k in debt, and that is loans for everything over 4 years. These kids need to be educated about student debt before choosing a college nowadays. Everyone wants to go to a prestigious private school for the name, and it is NOT WORTH the lifetime of financial hardships they are taking on. Our economy will not get better until our college graduates are getting jobs and can dig themselves out of student debt.

  • joe schmoe

    Don’t kid yourself about the “learning” that takes place. Its all about the income! The school will make a FORTUNE off of students living on campus. I remember dorm life as drinking, sex and drugs. maybe it has changed since then, probably not.

Comments are closed.