by Dezmond Remington
Every morning the sun rises, every evening it sets, and about a quarter of the way through every spring semester, the housing website crashes when a couple thousand desperate students all attempt to turn in their applications for the next year. It’s a pattern that never fails, and this last go-round was no different.
Student Kristin Tran was one of many affected by the crash. They had to wait two hours when the application opened to get it turned in, missing class in the process to make absolutely sure it went through when it could.
“It was definitely really crazy and super chaotic,” Tran said. “I am registered with SDRC too, so I have accommodations, but because of the shortages, they said they’ve also had to be super selective about who gets certain accommodations now, because they simply don’t have enough room for everyone… it’s just kind of scary.”
Nabbing a university-sponsored spot is not easy. According to Housing Assignments Coordinator Carly Strand and Executive Director for Auxiliary Operations Stephen St. Onge, it’s entirely first-come first-served, although it isn’t just one long list. Applicants are sorted into gendered lists. If they’re comfortable with co-ed housing, that is also taken into consideration.
As of March 22nd, 2,335 students had applied for the 2,406 beds in university housing, which includes all on-campus housing and all of the ‘bridge’ hotel housing. However, St. Onge and Strand said they were working on getting more housing, although from where specifically they couldn’t say.
There were 1,500 applications for university housing from returning students, who are all competing for 911 beds. They will find out on March 29 if they got a spot. They’ll find out where that spot is later in the spring. Strand advised returning students to avoid panicking about housing in the meantime.
Incoming freshmen will learn if they got housing in June. As of March 22nd, about 700-800 freshmen had applied for the roughly 1,500 beds on campus mainly reserved for them in Canyon, Cypress, and the Hill. The number will rise as the Fall 2023 semester draws nearer.
St. Onge said that in a typical year about 25% of the applications are canceled. The application is free to submit, and some applicants may end up attending a different school. However, St. Onge also said that the freshmen cancellation rate this year may be closer to about 20% because the campus’ new polytechnic status has made it more desirable.
Setting up student housing in local motels has been tough. According to St. Onge, it takes about six to eight months to scout a location and lock down a deal with the owners. It costs the school $100 a day to house a student there, although the residents are charged about $20 a day—the lowest rate of any university-provided option aside from three-person dorm rooms.
“The university is subsidizing housing for students because it is committed,” St. Onge said. “It is committed to providing safe and affordable housing for students.”
Tran doesn’t feel that the university’s first-come first-served policy reflects that mission well.
“They want to double enrollment,” Tran said. “It’s going to get a lot worse until they deal with it and deal with the fact that their growth is kind of unsustainable right now.”