Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Editorial: The university needs to provide better housing for students

OpinionEditorialEditorial: The university needs to provide better housing for students

University students have long held grievances about housing. Between issues with the dorms and competitive off-campus housing, finding a comfortable place to live is a nearly impossible task.

This year, the university has boasted that the freshman class is the largest class ever, at 4,632 students. 

However, the university has struggled to provide adequate accommodations to many of those students.

While some are lucky enough to be placed in newer dormitories like South Academy Residence Hall, other students are left to live with a lack of air conditioning, windows that don’t open, bugs and forced triples, normal-sized dorms with three roommates rather than the standard two. 

The inequity of university-provided housing needs to be addressed in a more timely manner, especially if the university insists on admitting such a large number of students.

It’s not fair to freshman students who have no prior knowledge of the poor conditions to be placed in a living situation that is inadequate. If they are paying for on-campus housing, they should be provided with safe and comfortable accommodations.

After the one year requirement for living on campus, students may think their struggle has ended. However, finding comfortable housing off campus is no easy task, either.

Finding off-campus apartments or houses is often challenging due to the competitive nature of leases. The leases are often signed nearly a year in advance, which creates a situation where freshmen have to decide who they want to live with after only knowing other students for a month or two. But, if a student wants “good housing,” they need to act fast.

And this “good housing,” oftentimes isn’t that great anyway. Similar issues to the dorms exist in off-campus housing, and getting maintenance is sometimes difficult. 

Despite these known issues, students are in a situation where they can’t fight back. Finding off-campus housing that’s a fair price and within a reasonable distance from campus is already difficult, so speaking up when there aren’t many other options isn’t really a choice.

To fix this issue, the university could be doing a lot more than it is currently. Saying they are going to make housing better isn’t enough. Students need action now, not years down the line. 

If the university mandates that students live on campus for their first year, the least they can do is ensure that the living conditions are adequate for the number of students they admit, instead of creating too many instances of forced triples.

Students are practically fleeing university housing and turning to off-campus options, which in some scenarios, aren’t much better. The university and the landlords of Newark need to work closer with students in order to provide housing.

In the past, the university has vaguely addressed complaints about the dorms and made empty promises about fixing them. To lessen the complaints and make students feel more comfortable, the university can start by actually addressing the issues in the dorms. 

The first step of this would be to create pricing models that reflect the differences between dormitories. Students currently pay $8,660 annually for a double room with air conditioning and $8,482 for a double room without air conditioning. The price difference should be more pronounced to reflect the fact that students living in doubles without air conditioning are often in the older dormitories and have to deal with the heat at the beginning and end of the school year. 

Prospective students should also know as they apply to the university the differences between dormitories, and that they aren’t guaranteed to be in a double room or room with air conditioning. 

As for off-campus housing, the university can start by being more of a resource for students who are searching. Freshmen who don’t know the area well and are new to campus are more vulnerable to uncomfortable or unsafe housing. 

Rather than sending students out on their own with little knowledge, the university should be a helpful resource in finding housing options and should be providing better on-campus options as well.

The Review’s weekly editorials are written to reflect the majority opinion of The Review’s staff. This week’s editorial was written by Lily Williams, managing opinion editor. She may be reached at lillianw@udel.edu.

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