Off-Campus Living

 

About 35 percent of Puget Sound students live off campus. About 90 percent of those who live off campus find housing in the neighboring community within one to two miles of the campus.

These are some resources you may find useful as you make decisions about moving into off-campus housing:

  • Off-Campus Living website contains current house, apartment and room listings as well as links to a variety of off-campus housing resources, including Washington's landlord/tenant laws.
  • Off-Campus Student Services provides individual assistance with finding off-campus houses, reviewing lease and rental agreements, conflict mediation, and legal referrals.
  • The Off-Campus Student Coordinators who work in the Department of Student Services can also be of assistance.

Landlords

Before entering into a rental agreement, ask yourself if your landlord or manager is someone with whom you believe you can work. If a landlord is difficult to communicate with or makes you feel uncomfortable, you may want to find another rental. Wise choices about landlords may save costs of legal assistance later. Resources to guide your choices are available on the off-campus housing website.

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Safety and Security

While living off campus, you should be especially concerned about your safety.

  • Keep your windows and doors locked.
  • Make sure all of your valuables have proper ID.
  • Know your neighbors; introduce yourself early on.
  • Keep a light or radio on if you are gone in the evenings.
  • Call 911 for emergencies.

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Staying Connected to Campus

Involvement in campus activities is a rewarding part of your Puget Sound education and links you to campus while you life off campus.  Here are some suggestions on how to keep in touch with campus events and activities.

  • The Tattler is a daily publication listing meetings and activities on campus; available at the Wheelock Student Center, Jones Hall, the Library and via e-mail.
  • The Trail is the weekly student newspaper highlighting world events, campus events and issues and activities on and off campus; available in the Student Center, Library and several academic buildings.
  • The Wheelock Reader Board and campus sandwich boards highlight major campus events.  Bulletin boards are located throughout campus containing postings of activities and advertisements.
  • The ASUPS Office is located upstairs in the Student Center (room 210); this is the home for the ASUPS officers and the administrative assistant for ASUPS. People in this office can give you information about student senate or becoming a member of committees, clubs and organizations.
  • The Puget Sound website provides links to ASUPS, the Dean of Students Office, campus events, academic calendar, email directory, class schedules and just about everything you need to know.
  • The Division of Student Affairs, Student Activities Office, located upstairs in the Student Development House across from Wheelock Student Center, (253.879.3317), is the location for off-campus living information. The coordinator also can help match you with a group or individual that would appreciate your volunteer service.
  • The Student Diversity Center is a student organized center located at 3211 N 15th, where all students are welcome to study, organize activities, hang-out between classes and attend a variety of culturally educational events.

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Where To Go For Help In Times Of Stress

There are many challenges involved in living independently, especially if you are doing so for the very first time. These are some ideas and campus resources that may be helpful in problem-solving situations:

  • Friends make good listeners and good mediators.
  • Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services (WSC 216, 253.879.1555) can provide counseling for personal problems.
  • Center for Spirituality, Service, and Social Justice (currently located across the parking lot from WSC in the little yellow house, 253.879.2751) provides spiritual advice and guidance.
  • Director of Off-Campus Student Services (Student Development House, 253.879.3317) works to support off-campus students and with the ASUPS Off-Campus Student Committee.

The following resources can provide informal dispute resolution services, assistance with property concerns, or help you to understand your options related to the landlord and tenant laws.

  • Contract Compliance Division of the Human Rights Dept.: 253.591.5151
  • Tacoma Housing Authority: 253.383.8991
  • Columbia Legal Services: 253.572.4343
  • Dispute Resolution Center: 253.572.3657
  • Pierce County Community Services: 253.798.7240
  • Tacoma Cares: 253.591.5001
  • Safe Streets: 253.272.6824

Sometimes things just don't work. If your living situation is causing too much stress it may be best to change. Check out the off-campus web site for apartment, house and roommate listings.

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Party Policies

One of the biggest responsibilities of living off campus is managing the freedom to have house parties. Being a responsible host is achievable, as long as you keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep parties to a controllable amount of people (less than 25); don't let people be loud outside.
  • If party-crashers arrive at your party, call the police and let them deal with the situation, rather than putting yourself at risk of a serious conflict.
  • Don't allow anyone under the influence to drive away because you could be liable if they are injured.
  • Inform your neighbors when you are having a party and encourage them to let you know if it is getting too loud, rather than them directly calling the police.

If you are hosting or attending a party, you need to be aware of your legal risks.  Fines for Noise Disturbances range from $250-$800.  Heavier fines ($1,000-$8,000), revocation of a driving license and possible jail time are mandated by law for Minor in Possession, Supplying Liquor to Minors, Fighting or Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs, including sedating medications.

Students are eager to be good citizens and avoid involvement with the police. Police primarily investigate situations due to noise violations or crowds of people parking or "swarming" in neighborhood streets. Remember that police do not necessarily know if the house they are entering is a student's house. Police are not concerned with "busting students," but rather with maintaining peace and order in a neighborhood. After police have entered a house, they will be concerned about underage drinking. The best way to deal with the police is to be cooperative and honest. They, like anyone, are more likely to react favorably to people who treat them with respect. The police will usually issue a citation before they arrest.  Such penalties can be prevented by keeping guests indoors, preventing underage students from drinking and being reasonably quiet.

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Policy for University Response to Neighbor Complaints about Student Behavior

The University of Puget Sound generally treats off-campus students as private citizens responsible for their behavior. If they violate city ordinances or other laws, Puget Sound students should be held to the same standards as other private citizens: they should be subject to warning, citation or arrest.

The university also reserves the right to discipline students for seriously or chronically offensive behavior occurring off-campus if the behavior violates university policies, interferes with the relationship of the university to others or harms the reputation of the university.

Most Puget Sound students have good relationships with their neighbors. The university hopes that issues involving off-campus students and persons in the neighboring community can be resolved without becoming conduct cases. In situations when neighbor complaints arise and when students need to be encouraged toward improved relationships with neighbors and to be held accountable for their behavior, the following process guidelines will be used.

General Provisions
The Community Engagement Manager is responsible for all intake information from neighbors. All complaints received should be referred to the Community Engagement Manager, if possible. In the occasion when someone else receives a complaint, information should be forwarded to the Community Engagement Manager for follow-up. This includes complaint reports received by Security Services during weekend or evening hours. The Community Engagement Manager sends a copy of complaint intake reports to the Director of Security Services for information purposes only.

Neighbors reporting a complaint need to provide their name, address and phone number. Generally, neighbors will be expected to have talked to students about their concerns before the complaint process outlined below will be initiated.

The university will not contact landlords on behalf of neighbors and will not be the source of landlord names or contact information. Contact with landlords may be suggested as a problem-solving strategy in conversations with neighbors and students about their concerns.

As is the case at present, the university's conduct process proceeds without waiting for adjudication of any civil or criminal charges to be completed.

First Complaints
The goal of the response to a first complaint is to encourage students and neighbors to work out differences so as to not have a situation escalate.

For initial complaints about a given address, student or group of students, the Community Engagement Manager will gather information from neighbors regarding the issue and prepare an intake report to be kept on file.  The report is sent to the offices of Off-Campus Student Services and the Dean of Students, and a letter to each of the identified students is prepared.  The letter will require students to make an appointment within seven working days with the Director of Residence Life and Off-Campus Student Services.  This will serve an an opportunity for the Director and student(s) to formulate a plan of action to address the documented issues and or concerns.

Multiple calls about a given incident will be grouped into a single notification letter.

Second Complaints

If a second formal complaint is filed, the Community Engagement Manager will send a report to the Assistant Dean of Students and the Director of Residence Life and Off-Campus Student Services.  The Assistant Dean, after reviewing the history of complaints for the given address, student or group of students, will determine if the second complaint constitutes a minor or major violation of the Student Integrity Code.  If appropriate, students will be required to appear before the university's Honor Court or the Integrity Code Board for a disciplinary process.

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Incidents of "Seriously Offensive" Behavior

The definition of "seriously offensive" behavior is behavior that, if true, would constitute a violation of Standard I of the Integrity Code.

The Community Engagement Manager will forward a copy of the intake report to the Associate Dean of Students. The Associate Dean will proceed with investigation of the complaint the same as for any other conduct complaint (Integrity Code Implementation, section III.B).

In situations involving multiple complaints about multiple incidents within a brief time period (e.g., the week's time period required to send notification letters about a complaint), the complaints may be combined and treated as a seriously offensive matter.

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Guidelines to the Administrative Hearing Officer, Integrity Code Board or Honor Court

A given case will be presented as "a case" and not differentiated as "chronically offensive" or "seriously offensive."

At present, conduct history is not a factor in determining responsibility for a violation of the Code. If responsibility for violation is affirmed, then hearing officers, Integrity Code Board or Honor Court members may consider conduct history in determining appropriate sanctions. In the hearing process, it will be understood that in reference to previous "first" or "second" neighbor complaints, no formal charges were brought and so responsibility in those cases cannot be assumed. Any prior incident of a neighbor complaint for which a student was found responsible may be considered as conduct history in determining appropriate sanctions.

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Retention of Files

Files retained by the Community Engagement Manager and the  Director of Off-Campus Student Services should be kept by house address. At the end of each academic year, that year's complaint reports and notes will be clipped together with a cover sheet indicating a summary of activity (e.g., four neighbors called about two incidents).

Neighbors who provide false or inaccurate information will have such findings filed with the Community Engagement Manager. Neighbors who request a copy of a letter sent to students may receive the text of the letter with student names and contact information removed in order to maintain university compliance with provisions of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

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Amendment

Changes in these process guidelines may be adopted following approval by the usual administrative procedures employed by the university, so long as such changes conform to the Principle and Standards of the Integrity Code.

Approved: 5/11/2000

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