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Bucknell to limit off-campus housing to 200 students

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Nov 10, 2014 4:18 AM
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(Lewisburg) -- Bucknell University's housing policy change is causing a stir in the surrounding community, and some fear the new rules will hurt Lewisburg landlords.

Starting in fall 2015, no more than 200 seniors at the university in Union County will be allowed to live off-campus.

It's a change that's been discussed since 1998, but was recently finalized and presented to property managers.

Bucknell administrators say keeping students living on-campus for all four years will enhance their education.

"We really consider our residence halls living-learning communities. There's a lot that happens both inside and outside the classroom, and our residential halls are truly an extension of the learning that started in the classroom," says Bucknell's Dean of Students Susan Lantz.

But Kevin Gardner, owner of Brynwood Rentals in Lewisburg, says as many as 90 units may be vacated in Lewisburg, and he's watching his bottom line.

"There's concern about who's going to fill these, and they don't seem concerned at all about that. Let the chips fall where they may. They've got new beds to fill, and they're going to fill them," says Gardner.

Gardner says he can't sell many of his units because they're in a flood plain.

He says he may have to lower his tenant standards to avoid vacancies.

"I really think the market could absorb 20 to 30 at the most, but not that many, so landlords are going to be scrambling to get other folks into these units," he says.

However, Lantz says the school is still keeping ties to the neighborhood.

Shuttles will run between campus and downtown, and she says its bookstore and restored Campus Theatre aren't leaving their current locations.

"The university has truly invested in the community, in downtown Lewisburg, spending much time, energy, and resources in assisting to build a community that's really a great environment for our students and we're committed to continuing to do that," she says.

The policy allows a hundred male seniors and a hundred female seniors to live off campus starting next fall.

Each student will have to clear a disciplinary check and be one of the first 30 selected in a lottery process, at which point they can pick up to two other roommates.

About 500 Bucknell seniors currently live off-campus.

Bucknell will accommodate the influx of students with new apartment-style dorms.

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