Rockhurst plans to close On Campus Houses- University and students share exceedingly different opinions on the matter


One of Rockhurst’s several OCHs at 5111 Forest Ave., photo by Grayce Teague, Sentinel Photographer

Alex Zoellner, Reporter

After the spring semester of the 2022-2023 academic school year, Rockhurst University will be selling all of their On Campus Houses (OCH) and removing them as a residence option for students. While the university believes selling the homes is the best decision for the school, the residents of OCH 130, Sydney Shindler, Jaeden Waschbusch and Katelyn Kochanowski, share a staggeringly different perspective and keep the homes close to their heart.

There are currently 11 OCHs, all located on Forest Avenue with nine of them being past the north side of campus and the other two being past the south side. They are two-story homes furnished with individual beds, a kitchen table and chairs, a washer and dryer and major kitchen appliances. The houses give upperclassmen the opportunity to live independently with peers in a neighborhood, while still experiencing the community aspect of living on campus.

According to Mark Hetzler, Associate Vice President of Student Development and Residence Life, the closure of the OCHs is due to “consistent negative reviews on the houses reported from student satisfaction surveys.” Students expressed concerns about the homes being out of date, in need of repairs and expensive.

The university would have to heavily invest financially in order to alleviate the issues that residents shared about the OCHs. Because the houses are already generally expensive to lease, about $4000 per semester, the university believes it would be more effective to sell the homes and put that money towards other Rockhurst-owned residences rather than update the OCHs, ultimately making them more expensive for students.

Hetzler guaranteed that all students planning to reside on campus will have a place to stay. However, less people will receive their first choice of housing. Without the option for juniors and seniors to live in the OCHs, the upperclassmen will now be fighting for spots in Rock Row and the Townhouse Villages (THV). Additionally, more sophomores will be pushed into dorms because of older students now filling space in the THVs.

Despite the negative reviews reported to the housing committee, seniors Shindler, Waschbusch and Kochanowski enjoyed their experiences living in the OCHs. The trio has lived together in the homes for the past two years and disagree with the university’s decision to sell them. Not only do the OCHs host some of their fondest college memories, but they also fulfilled their needs for college living.

“Truly, I have not had any major issues with the OCHs. As a matter of fact, I think they are incredibly cute, and I have loved being able to live in them,” Shindler said, “Any maintenance requests submitted were quickly and easily corrected by the maintenance crew.”

The residents in OCH 130 understand that other students may have been unsatisfied with the age of the homes, but in turn, recognize that is what comes along with the older area surrounding Rockhurst. The houses were no different than those that their friends who lived off campus were moving into. They appreciated the character of the homes and the benefits that came along with living there.

“We knew what we were getting into with regards to the houses around Rockhurst because it is an old neighborhood. Most, if not all the houses in this area are old, but Rockhurst provided houses to us that would satisfy our want to live near campus and all our needs,” Waschbusch said.

Another major reason the girls disagree with selling the OCHs is because many students in each grade are required to live on campus for all four of their years at Rockhurst. It is mandatory for every student that does not commute from home to live on campus for their first two years at the school, but there are also various scholarships, such as the Trustees’ Scholarship and other athletic grants, which require recipients to live on campus for all their undergraduate schooling. Part of a student’s decision to sign these scholarships was the understanding that there would be the opportunity to live more independently in OCHs as an upperclassman, similar to ones that those living off campus would reside in.

“I am required to live on campus due to scholarship and the OCHs were able to provide me with some semblance of independent college living,” Shindler said, “As an upperclassman, I could not imagine living on campus while all my peers were free to live elsewhere.”

The requirement for students who received these scholarships to live on campus all four years will not be altered regardless of housing options being more limited than when they signed the contract.

As far as future plans go, Hetzler mentioned that the university owns various lots around campus and is considering building some new residences there in the upcoming years, but no new additions will be available before next semester. Details about what kind of housing and dates were not specified.

Though there are differing opinions over the closing of Rockhurst’s OCHs, the properties will be sold after the school year ends. As the semester winds down, wave goodbye to the university’s OCHs and expect to see the residence halls, THVs and Rock Row in full action during the 2022-2023 school year.

This story has been updated to correct the date in which OCHs will no longer be available.