Behrend College Off-Campus Housing

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Team ID: 
440
College / Administrative Unit: 
Erie, The Behrend College
Date Started: 
March 2001
Objective: 
Statement of Issues:

The need to improve the quality of the student off-campus housing program grows relative to campus expansion. The current model and support structure for off-campus housing was fundamentally designed and implemented in 1992. While many improvements have occurred, mainly through incremental quality and service changes during the intervening years, student needs have enlarged significantly over the past two years. A growing number of quality concerns identified by my office indicate that it may be time to think about the off-campus program and process differently due to negative impacts that we’ve observed in growing number. Some of these issues and impacts may be preliminarily identified as:

* Growing staff resources and support needed to provide adequate consultation, support and guidance for students and families.
* Students that “fall through the cracks” and end up looking for housing very late in the summer or on the first day of classes.
*The internal and external process for the referral of off-campus housing support for students.
* The change in Harbourcreek zoning and our relation to legal compliance
* Varied quality of lessor properties.
* Limited Commuter Council involvement.
* Parameters of Colleges legal responsibilities vs. our ability to help students in need.
* Landlord meeting responsibilities and follow up with students
* Landlord price inflation relative to student demand.
* Potential negative public relations impacts that a significant incident off-campus may have for the college.
* Students’ lack of awareness relative to their safety, roles and responsibilities.
* The increasing need to serve as a mediator between off-campus lessors and students relative to problems they are both experiencing.

Goals/Outcomes:

There are three primary goals or outcomes that may be portrayed as:
1) Increasing student and family awareness of their rights, roles and responsibilities related to off-campus housing
2) reducing student complaints and tenant/landlord conflicts
3) streamlining primary campus stakeholder communication and support for students requesting off-campus housing
Desired Results: 

Short-Term Goal - Accommodate as many first-year students on campus as possible and provide better information to enable first-year students unable to secure on-campus housing to make informed decisions about off-campus housing.
Penn State Behrend Off-Campus Housing CQI Team
Final Report

Team Membership
· Sponsor – Student Affairs – Ken Miller
· Facilitator – Bob Light
· Team Leader – Chris Rizzo
· Team Members and Area – Donna Fuller/Admissions, John Ream/Operations, Laura Palmer/Housing, Dianna Malinowski/Student Activities, Michael Chiteman /Division of Undergraduate Studies, Karl Gressley/Commuter Council

Statement of the Issues

The team was charged with improving the quality of the student off-campus housing program relative to campus expansion and current resources available. Additionally, the team was charged with examining the quality of information provided to students and the connections between offices with the goal of streamlining processes and programs where possible.

The group was convened on January 23, 2001 and the initial challenges identified included:

· growing staff resources and support needed to provide adequate consultation, support, and guidance for students and families;
· students that “fall through the cracks” and end up looking for housing very late in the summer or on the first day of classes;
· the internal and external processes for the referral of off-campus housing support for students;
· varied quality of lessor properties and communication of this information to students;
· limited Commuter Council involvement;
· college’s legal responsibilities vs. ability to help students in off-campus housing;
· informing students about landlord price inflation and responsibilities;
· potential negative public relations impacts that a significant incident off-campus may have for the college;
· students’ lack of awareness relative to their safety, roles, and responsibilities;
· increasing need to serve as a mediator between off-campus lessors and students relative to problems they both are experiencing.

There were three primary outcomes identified from the above information demonstrated as 1) increasing student and family awareness of their rights, roles, and responsibilities related to off-campus housing, 2) reducing student complaints and tenant/landlord conflicts through interventions, and, 3) improving primary stakeholder information, communication, processes and support for students requesting off-campus housing.
Team Goals and Actions Generated in Response to the Outcomes

Short-Term Goal - Accommodate as many first-year students on campus as possible and provide better information to enable first-year students unable to secure on-campus housing to make informed decisions about off-campus housing.

Long-Term Goal - Require all traditional first-year students not living at home to live on campus. This is a campus planning issues to be communicated to Housing and Food Services as we expand campus housing.

Action #1 – Ensure that prospective students are aware of housing consequences related to late PSU application and review current materials to demonstrate and communicate the impact of application timing and what effect Behrend second choice has on housing applications. Provide additional clarification to new students and families that housing is not guaranteed for first-year students.

· Housing and Admissions – Review and improve communications through material and information provided in mailing and during visits, etc.
· Division of Undergraduate Studies and Student Affairs – Provide additional information during FTCAP and offer personal consultations to help students, parents, and families with off-campus housing issues.
· Student Affairs – Host off-campus housing fairs and information sessions as needed during Open Houses.

Action #2 - Develop online off-campus housing information site through Commuter Council
· Student Affairs and Commuter Council –Develop a Commuter Council website to provide more detailed information about student perceptions related to off-campus housing lessors via development and utilization of a survey and rating system. Improve the current off-campus housing Web site information and resources.

Action #3 – Enhance the college’s Web site to make housing information more prominent, especially for international students and for students not part of a high school visitation program.

· Student Affairs- Explore this through the first-year student Web site.

Additional successes and improvements realized during the course of the CQI team process included:

· Off-campus housing fair and student, parent, and family information session offered as part of the March, 2000, Open House;
· DUS developed a student survey about off-campus housing issues to be administered during FTCAP;
· Investigation of housing information critical to Penn State Behrend students and placement of housing information in the University application is under review by admissions in concert with University Park staff;
· Improved notification process with University Relations when issues arise related to off-campus housing town/gown relations.

Contact Person: 
Chris Rizzo
Members:
  • Chris Rizzo, Leader
  • Bob Light, Facilitator
  • Michael Chiteman, Member
  • Donna Fuller, Member
  • Karl Gressley, Member
  • Dianna Malinowski, Member
  • Laura Palmer, Member
  • John Ream, Member