As of Jan. 30, 720 rising juniors and seniors are on Penn Residential Services’ waitlist for on-campus housing for the 2023-24 school year.
Many students who applied for on-campus for next year initially received emails on Dec. 1 from Penn Residential Services notifying them that they had been placed on the housing waitlist. Penn Residential Services will soon randomly select students on the waitlist to provide on-campus housing assignments for the next school year, given that the number of applicants exceeded the allocated number of spots for upperclassmen.
Penn allocates approximately 950 spots for on-campus housing to rising juniors and seniors. First years and sophomores are guaranteed on-campus housing under a policy that began in fall 2021. However, the University announced a number of changes to its college housing system over the past year that has affected capacity.
With a large part of the Quad preparing to be closed for renovations, Penn Residential Services shifted both Van Pelt Manor in Gregory College House and Lauder College House to first-year-only housing next year in order to accommodate the Quad's temporarily decreased capacity.
Penn Residential Services also leased out the Radian, an apartment building on Walnut Street, to accommodate upperclassmen beginning in August 2023. In an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian, Assistant Director of Housing Occupancy Scott Hammell declined to speculate on how the size of this year's waitlist was impacted by Penn's leasing of the Radian, which is being treated as an on-campus housing option until August 2026.
“Talking to students, we were asked about the Radian a lot," Hammell said. "Whether or not it has caused more applications is to be determined."
Students on the housing waitlist told the DP that the situation has increased stress due to its random nature, with students being told of their placement on the list. College sophomore Nora Youn said that she feels anxious and that her housing situation is in limbo.
“We – those on the waitlist – are sort of left with not a lot of options,” Youn said. “From what I’ve heard, because there are so many people who want to stay on campus, even if you’re on the waitlist, you’re probably not going to get on-campus housing.”
A College sophomore, who was granted anonymity because of fear of retaliation from the University, said that being placed on the bottom third of the waitlist is particularly difficult as a first-generation, low-income student and as a disabled student: “Not knowing where [I’m] going to live takes up so much of [my] time. I’m having to resort to fighting with housing and financial aid so that I know where to live, instead of studying for my classes.”
Students who submitted the rising junior and senior room selection application in November were randomly divided into two groups – one for students who would be placed on the waitlist and one for “active” students who will be given housing.
Penn Residential Services randomly assigned “active” students — which include all rising sophomores — point values based on factors such as their class year and other circumstances that account for changes in housing policy. Rising seniors will be given 300 points, rising juniors will be given 200 points, and younger students will be given 100 points. Students living in houses that are being transitioned to first-year-only housing for the 2023-2024 school year are given 10 extra points.
Penn Residential Services will randomly select students to remove from the waitlist based on how many "active" students fail to fill out their housing preferences on the Room Selection application by Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. In an email sent to students on the waitlist, Penn Residential Services wrote that they should also complete the Room Selection application because it will make them “eligible to receive a timeslot should [they] be removed from the waitlist.”
"Active" students will be randomly sorted within their point levels and given time slots on Feb. 9 to select rooms based on that ordering. Students on the waitlist will be notified of their status on this date.
Rising juniors and seniors who filled out the general application in January were placed on the waitlist in spots that land below those who filled out the November application.
“It’s just not a fair process when Penn says that they’re willing to support its vulnerable students and then their students are in situations like this,” the anonymous sophomore said.
Youn said that rising juniors and seniors, who can also choose to live off campus, may want to live on campus for "one two two years more than usual" because of COVID-19's disruptions to their typical college experience. Last year, the on-campus housing application for rising juniors was capped at around 1,000 students, and those selected had a confirmed spot in campus housing.
Associate Director of Housing Occupancy Katie Musar said that the best course of action for students on the waitlist to secure on-campus housing is to fill out the application by Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. Penn Residential Services encouraged students to reach out to them for information about the waitlist and to “be flexible.”
If students are not taken off the waitlist, Musar said they can contact Penn Off-Campus Services for support.
“Don’t panic, but be realistic and take advantage of the resources we have through our office of off-campus services," Musar said. "There’s housing all around."