Woe betide the late-booking studentBy Catherine Burgess
It’s that time of year again: summer semester students are finishing up their exams while work-term students write their reports. Returning students are gearing up for the fall semester, only weeks away. Most will soon be making their final arrangements for the school year – courses, schedules and, for those arriving on campus from far away, housing.
Yes, it’s housing crunch season.
For years, there has been a high demand for on-campus housing – a demand that simply doesn’t have the supply. Only 1,500 beds are currently available on-campus, able to house less than 10 per cent of the university’s population, according to Memorial’s student housing website.
The residence buildings were constructed decades ago for a student population of 8,000. Now, with the same number of beds, these residences are supposed to supply a university population that has more than doubled since their construction, and with that comes much more pressure, both for housing coordinators and students.
The most recent bit of media attention given to the issue was a segment on CBC News: Here and Now on July 29th. The piece highlighted a number of worrisome points for new housing-seeking students. The CBC’s Natalie Kalata reported that the city’s vacancy rates are around 1.1 per cent at this point in time, and Andrew Harvey of off-campus housing said that students begin looking into on-campus housing as early as February, resulting in waiting lists that extend into the hundreds.
Woe betide the late-booking student.
What can be done to solve Memorial’s annual student housing crunch? According to Darren Newton, supervisor of residence life at Memorial, the university has undertaken two endeavours to ease the strain on campus housing.
First, the university has received funding to construct a new 500-bed residence. The residence will be a fusion of what Paton College and Burton’s Pond have to offer, and will without doubt appeal to students; the buildings will have single rooms, but no kitchens, so that students may still attend Paton College for meals.
Second, Newton says that on- and off-campus housing will work closely together to ensure that all students find proper accommodations.
For the new university student living away from home, residence really is the ideal living situation, easing the transition into the university community in a supportive environment. To ensure their housing plans get sorted, students must look into housing options early to secure their place, whether they choose to live on or off campus.
Reiterating Kalata’s remark, the early bird really does get the worm.