The struggles of trying to live off campus

Baker University is considered a residential university. By being a residential university, all undergraduate students are required to live in campus housing or in Greek houses. The University prides itself on student life and living in on-campus housing can play a large role in a student’s experience in college.

According to the Baker University student handbook, Baker understands that living on campus may not be the best option for all students. The handbook explains that students with certain needs may apply to live off-campus.

Baker’s policy explains that students may not live off-campus if they do not meet specific criteria or do not provide sufficient documentation for these needs. Additionally, students may not live off-campus if they simply have a preference to live off-campus.

A few of Baker’s exemption considerations include but are not limited to: medical disability, married students, students over the age of 23, military veteran students and fifth-year students, according to the Residence Life website.

For students who meet the criteria to live off-campus, they must still apply and be awarded residency requirement exemption status. However, even though a student applies for an exemption from this rule, they may not be granted housing exemption. To add to the confusion, some students are required to re-apply each year, while other exemptions remain active throughout the student’s time at Baker.

The process for applying for residency requirement exemption includes an application and potentially other documentation, dependent on the criteria the student falls under. According to the residency requirement exemption webpage, these exemption requests are granted on a case-by-case basis. For example, some of the exemptions, such as veterans, require documentation of current or prior military service, excluding dishonorable discharge.

As a student who has gone through this process myself, I can admit that this process is not necessarily an easy one. Without getting too deep into specifics of my case, I qualify under more than one criterion to be considered eligible to live off-campus.

I followed the instructions listed on the Residence Life page of the Baker University website. I completed and submitted the application. Shortly after, I was notified that I was required to write a letter further explaining my situation and my needs for off-campus housing.

At first, this request that I write a letter to explain in further detail my request to live off-campus seemed intrusive. I did not view my circumstances as ones needing an extremely detailed explanation. However, I do understand the University’s process around this. My experience was relatively easy. However, other students may find it more difficult to be granted exemption from Baker’s housing policies.

For students who are requesting an exemption for medical reasons, students must apply, but also take action through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) services. These students have to provide additional documentation to prove they have a medical necessity for off-campus housing, and that their condition’s severity meets ADA legal requirements.

While I can understand the University’s stance on these requirements, I can also understand student frustration in regards to the intense vetting process we must go through in order to do what we feel is best for us.

Additional information, including the application requirements for each exemption type, may be found here.