Luther's off-campus housing policy is changing for the 2016-17 academic year, now only allowing non-traditional students and certain international students to live off campus. According to Luther Dean of Student Life Corey Landstrom, the planned policy change is mostly due to lower than average enrollment.
Now that very few students have been permitted to sign off-campus housing leases, many landlords have struggled to fill their vacancies. Both students and landlords alike have voiced displeasure over the changes, but the landlords are more worried for the students than for themselves.
One landlord, who asked to remain anonymous, says that students will definitely face negative consequences as a result of this policy. "As a senior, you've got to go live out in the world after graduation," he said. "I think it is really necessary to learn the skills of living, like paying bills and managing groceries and living expenses and you don't get that in the dorms always."
Many students have echoed this sentiment. Rochester native Dan Herman graduated in 2016, and was not approved to live off campus but elected to pay for both on-campus and off-campus housing in order to bypass Luther's increasing restriction on off-campus housing.
"I wanted the opportunity to live on my own and develop the life skills that you get with living in a house and paying bills and stuff," Herman said. "Luther made it seem like we could live off-campus as seniors when I was applying as a senior in high school, but they changed the policy and I think it's not for the benefit of the students. A lot of people shake their head at the decision to pay for both housing, but the lessons learned off-campus are valuable."
Despite the changes to the housing policy, many of the landlords who have typically rented to students have said they are not worried about losing out on the housing market. "There is a big market for lower-priced single family homes in Decorah right now," one landlord said. "I know that I and a lot of the other renters around here have kept their houses in good condition and with a little money, they could be flipped easily."