LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Program would make finding housing off-campus easier for WKU students

Kevin Smiley

Ever had trouble finding an apartment?

I can hear the “uh-huhs” from here.

In fighting the myriad of difficulties of getting information, physically finding a place and remembering to ask every question, it is problematic out there. I just made a move to Memphis, Tenn., and should feel your pain, but, surprisingly enough, it was an easy process. In fact, most of it took place in my living room.

You see, the University of Memphis is one of more than 40 universities that use a program called Off-Campus Partners. OCP goes into communities, engages landlords and encourages them to sign up for their program. When they sign up, OCP lists them on the university website, where any student can access the user-friendly site to peruse everything they need to know, from costs to number of bedrooms to amenities. It even posts pictures and lists things like the deposit, the distance to campus, pet policies, laundry information … you get the idea.

Indeed, my difficulty came only in deciding which apartment I should pick. Life is hard.

OCP, which is a private company, makes their money by charging local rental companies who use the service. For the exposure landlords are bound to receive, the classifieds-like rates are affordable. For students, it is free. For the university, it is free. Win.

There are other approaches to this problem. These include things like a potentially costly office of off-campus student housing or Craigslist, which has a minimal control mechanism on the information posted, plus the Craigslist interface is about as engaging as your dad’s chain e-mails.

Last spring, the SGA I was a part of began looking into housing issues in Bowling Green and one promising lead was potentially partnering with Off-Campus Partners. I feel confident current student leaders can and are putting themselves to the task of the issue. I hope that the university will do the same and adopt the OCP program as a common-sense, 21st-century and, again, free approach to a real problem that affects thousands of students.

This commentary doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the Herald or the university.