Hundreds of Students Are Starting Their Year Shut Out of Dorm Housing

08.20.18
A residence hall at Purdue University. Photo by Wes Jackson via Flickr

For college students, the end of summer means the dread of returning to classes and buying even more textbooks. But a silver lining for many students has been planning out their dorm room decor and making their home away from home look, and feel, as stress-free as possible.

But just finding a dorm room is proving difficult for students at Purdue, Clark Atlanta, and more campuses as hundreds of students have been left struggling with where to live just days before their classes start.

Purdue University

At Purdue alone, 157 students don’t have permanent housing assignments, according to the Purdue Exponent, the school’s independent student paper. The paper posted photos of makeshift temporary dorms for students that quickly went viral.

Purdue student Robert Kim is currently living in one of the auxiliary dorms. He says the situation isn’t as bad as people make it seem.

“We have our beds all bunked and we each have only a wardrobe and desk. We do have a wi-fi router dedicated to our room as well as a full fridge, sink, and bathroom,” Kim told Youth Radio. “I’d have to say the only downside of living in the ‘outback’ as we call it, is that we only have one shower even though we have access to the bathrooms inside the building.”

Kim went on to say, “We have a lot of floor space and our ceilings are really high, so while it does feel cozy, it doesn’t feel crammed.”

Purdue’s Vice Provost for Student Life, Beth McCuskey, confirmed to Buzzfeed that the room in the Instagram post isn’t currently being used but is an accurate model for ones like it that house 8-10 students.

Purdue saw this situation coming — the “auxiliary housing” was created because of an excess of admitted students, 500 more than Purdue anticipated. Every year there is high demand to live on campus, but there are also students who will say they’re coming to Purdue and then not show up, according to McCuskey.

“Every year we arrange for temporary spaces and typically have 100 spaces that are used,” McCuskey said. Those in large 8-10 person spaces are typically reassigned “within the first few weeks of class” and all students are free to move into off-campus housing as well.

One Purdue alum compared the images circulating online to jail cells.

Others were concerned with the amount students were paying to stay in these dorms.

McCuskey said the school charges students $1,200 a semester for the rooms, “the absolute lowest rate,” for however long they are assigned there.

And some believe the outrage isn’t warranted and that students are exaggerating.

Clark Atlanta University

At CAU, a Historically Black College and University, more than 150 students who said they’d paid their semester bills were denied housing just one day before classes started, according to WSB-TV.

Many students waited in packed lines at the student center to inquire about housing options, some arriving as early as 5 a.m. on Tuesday, August 14.

A CAU statement obtained by Channel 2 Action News implies that some students didn’t follow rules about the housing process and states, “We have housing for all freshmen and sophomores who are financially enrolled.”

“They can pull it up and show you that they’re financially enrolled in the school, and they still don’t have housing,” frustrated parent Ericka Eddins told WSB-TV. “They’re saying that there’s no housing available and that everyone will have to resort to off-campus housing, which is a problem.”

Incoming freshman Alana Lloyd told WSB-TV, “The first thing I did was cry, to be honest,” after originally being assigned a suite with her friends and then being told by CAU there was no longer room.

“They have our loan money, our federal grant money. They have that … there should be no reason for her not to have housing,” Lloyd’s mother Michelle Lloyd said.

Social media users also criticized CAU for their handling of the housing mishap.

With one user relating the issue to a larger one, grouping together all HBCUs.

While another user warned against labeling this an HBCU issue or a PWI (Predominately White Institution) issue.

On Wednesday, some of the students had been assigned to permanent rooms according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution but by Thursday it still was unclear how many students were still without housing.

Washington State University

At WSU 155 sophomores, juniors, and seniors were still without housing on August 14, less than a week before their first day of classes, according to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

The students all make up the waitlist for housing, which is large because of the 4,300 incoming freshmen, the largest freshman class in WSU history.

Since freshmen are required to live on campus, residence halls are reserved for them first then for upperclassmen if there is room.

Phil Weiler, speaking for WSU, told the Daily News it is also likely that many students who signed up for the waitlist in the spring have already found alternative housing but never took their names off the list.

Weiler said the housing department will continue offering housing to upperclassmen on the list.

“In order to house all of the freshmen the university has reopened Waller Hall — a dormitory that was closed in 2015 — to accommodate incoming freshman men,” the Daily News said. “To accommodate freshman women, the university has converted single-student rooms in Orton Hall to house two students and other rooms in certain residence halls have been upped from housing two students to three.”

Residence advisers, who previously had their own rooms, will also begin sharing rooms with other students.

“I really didn’t want to be stuck in a three person corner room,” incoming freshman Alley Carney told KHQ after finding out her two-person room was converted into a triple. “One person gets shorted no matter what way you split it up, and it would be just way too inconvenient.”

And these aren’t the only universities plagued by housing issues.

Students at Indiana UniversityAlbany State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City have been scrambling for housing too.

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