Banning Students is Bad for Philadelphia

Banning Students is Bad for Philadelphia

Behind its innocuous title, City Council Bill No. 150649 could have major consequences for students under the age of 23 who want to live in and around Rittenhouse Square.  The current version of the bill will banhousing, not owner-occupied, for students” in the area between 17th and 21st Street, Walnut to Spruce. 

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A student is defined as "any person under the age of twenty-three (23) years enrolled full-time in a college or university undergraduate degree program.” Simply put, the bill will ban any student from renting an apartment in an around Rittenhouse Square.  

The bill is the consequence of an overreaction by Council President Clarke’s office to concerns of several neighbors regarding the conversion of two garages to multi-unit residential structures on the 2000 block of Rittenhouse Square Street.  Instead of pursuing a strategy to address these constituents specific concerns with a particular development, Council President Clarke’s office choose to overreact and ban all students from a 8 block radius in the heart of Philadelphia.

Banning a group of individuals, united by a common characteristic, such as age, is should be illegal.  Substitute “student” for another word describing a demographic and you will reflexively flinch. Unfortunately, the PA Commonwealth Court has concluded that students are not a “protected classification.”  Students can be discriminated against because they are students. In fact, a similar prohibition is already in effect around Temple University.

This bill and the lack of legal protection that students have is a reminder why, we, as millennials, need to be engaged. Only we can protect our interests. It is not too late to defeat this bill, but we must get involved. 

Here are some steps you can take:

First, the Center City Residents Association (CCRA) has taken the lead in fighting this bill and reversing the total ban on students. 

The CCRA is hosting an information meeting on Tuesday October 27 at 6 p.m. at 2111 Sansom Street to organize opposition to the bill and discuss measures to address the neighbors concerns without banning students. A strong attendance by millennials will show that we care about this issue and are engaged. 

Second, the bill is set for a Council Rules Committee hearing at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 16, in room 400 City Hall.  Philly Set Go will be encouraging and organizing millennials to attend this meeting and voice their concerns directly to committee members.

Finally, use social media. Social media provides an incredible opportunity to disseminate information about this bill and voice your opposition to it. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @phillysetgo. When tweeting remember to use the #PHLCouncil hashtag to let our City Council members know you are opposed to the bill. 

Together, we can defeat this discriminatory ban on students.

For more information,