Yes, Portland State University and its housing department are unique and interesting. Demographically speaking, PSU is located in the heart of downtown Portland, and it is not the center of a traditional college town, as is the case with the other Oregon universities.
Yes, Portland State University and its housing department are unique and interesting. Demographically speaking, PSU is located in the heart of downtown Portland, and it is not the center of a traditional college town, as is the case with the other Oregon universities. With that said, the risks and benefits that affect PSU because of its urban environment cannot be taken lightly. Campus housing has a responsibility to its residents to provide a safe living space. Although Mr. Jaynes’ article “Home sour home” does not detail any public safety policies, it does inaccurately detail a particular safety policy of PSU housing regarding keys.
Everyone gets locked out at some point or another, but the experiences this author states do not parallel housing policies. If you are locked out during desk hours (which are 8-6 p.m., five days a week and on Saturdays) you can check out an extra key to your room and keep it for 30 minutes. If you cannot return the keys within the allotted time period, housing can charge $5 for every half hour it is late, but with a maximum of $30 per day. I’m not sure where Mr. Jaynes got his information, but a $30 charge is quite a bit different from $50.
Extenuating circumstances do happen, and in those cases housing staff is very understanding and willing to cooperate with residents to waive fees. Thirty minutes is a reasonable time to get into your room and back considering the nearest housing desk is a five-minute walk from your building of residence. The longer these keys are checked out, the greater the likelihood that they might be misplaced or lost and fall into the wrong hands. This is an obvious danger to your safety and the safety of all residents in your building. So, yes, PSU housing is strict in certain policy areas, but not for the benefit of profit as this author would have you believe.
What should be addressed is the role of the RA in assisting residents when they are locked out. Mr. Jaynes was correct in stating that the charge for an after-hours lockout is $10, however this is a flat fee that has never increased above that. No other Oregon University System (OUS) university has PSU’s roughly 2000 residents to 39 RAs, five of which are on call at night to respond to emergencies. So, this makes a one-in-39 probability that the RA on call the night you get locked out will live in your building or in your area of campus. An RA on call can respond to lockout requests from one to 20 residents a night, often after midnight. All of these factors are important when figuring why housing charges a flat fee.
The fundamental role of the RA is to promote safety in campus housing for all residents and, as such, the courtesy to assist in lockouts is unique to campuses-not a right. For example, if you were to live off campus, requesting a locksmith could cost anywhere from $50�� to $200. Again, the $10 charge is largely just a preventative measure for those residents who make a habit of relying on the RA when they get locked out time and time again. It is important to remember that while RAs do work for the university, they are still students and any impingement on their ability to study and/or sleep, whether accidental or in response to an emergency, should not be taken lightly.
Out of all seven OUS universities, PSU is the only university that does not charge for residents to stay on campus during breaks. For reference, the University of Oregon charges a break fee in addition to your rent that could range from $100 to $550, depending on your room location on campus. “Room and board rates are established on the number of days and weeks classes are in session. Therefore, the established rates exclude services and costs of Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break vacation periods. Institutions that provide service to residents during these periods may access charges in addition to the regular room and board rate.” In addition, the U of O’s housing department charges a $10 room change fee for each move made on campus. PSU does not.
Mr. Jaynes, although very passionate about his discontent with campus housing, lacks the basic background knowledge needed to support his arguments. I do encourage any student that has concerns regarding housing or the university policies in general to address it to the proper department. Housing, like any other institution, is a work in progress that requires feedback from the individuals it serves in order to make it more proficient. It is your right to be proud of the community in which you live. To a certain extent we all have the responsibility to make sure that our grievances are addressed, and yet we have the same responsibility to be correctly informed of the policies that affect our daily lives.