A panel of city and university officials met with students in Neale Hall on Sept. 17 to help educate students on issues related to off-campus housing.
This was the first of many similar events scheduled throughout the fall semester. The program is called Strategic Education Campaign on Rights, Responsibilities, and Community: Landlords, Homeowners, Municipal Governance, Students, and UWSP on the Topic of Housing. The purpose of the program is to prepare students who are currently living on campus for everything that is involved with off-campus living.
“I feel like there is a big gap,” said Julie Olaf, Student Life and Academic Affairs Director. “Signing leases starts too early and many students don’t know about signing leases and landlords want them to sign immediately and students don’t know that they can wait. So we are trying to slow down the process and also educate students more about living off of campus.”
The panel includes a local landlord, the campus lawyer Jan Roberts, a city aldermen, a student who lives off campus, and the city attorney. Everyone sitting on the panel is volunteering their time.
“Take advantage of the time that they are taking to educate residents,” Olaf said.
There a total of eight sessions scheduled throughout the semester. One session will be held in each residence hall, except for the Suites and Hyer Hall.
“Most people will decide where they are going to live for the followingyear by homecoming so this will be a beginning of the year thing,” said Director of Public Relations and Communications for SGA Jenna Furger. “Students can get all the different perspectives. So when you get a house you won’t just be thinking about what the landlord’s needs but also what your neighbors expect of you or learning which neighborhood to live in.”
Each session will be an hour long. Half of the time will be spent answering questions pulled from a tenant resource webpage. The rest of the time will be open question and answer session.
“We are trying to slow down the process and educate students more about living off of campus,” Olaf said. “You can find resources online but there is no program designated for this.”
The topics will cover things like tenant rights, roommate agreements, landlord entry laws, and city ordinances. There will also be sample leases available so students can learn how to fill one out.
“If we can slow down the process for 100 students then it will still be slowed down as a whole in the city, which better than everyone just jumping into leases and signing them before they know what they are getting into,” Olaf said.
City Attorney Logan Beverage will be specifically covering city ordinances and laws, and rights that students have, like the right to have their home inspected.
“It’s a really good opportunity because we are telling you basically everything you need to know and what to watch out for,” Olaf said. “You will actually know what you are doing before you deal with problems.”