When I first transferred to VCU, I consistently heard complaint from students regarding issues with on-campus housing. In addition to the closing down of multiple dormitories due to construction this fall, many of the current upperclassmen dorms are being transition into housing exclusively for freshmen.
I didn’t understand these complaints at first; yes, living on-campus makes for a shorter commute, but it’s also more expensive. The current average cost of rent and utilities in the Richmond is $483 per person; the average yearly dorm cost for a 9-month lease is $6,582 – $731 per month – per student.
I soon realized, however, that people’s frustration were about more than having to live off-campus. They were about the negligence and disregard felt from VCU administration regarding the well being of their students.
A few weeks ago, many upperclassmen who applied on time to on-campus housing were told that all dorms are full. Students who have lived on-campus for years were suddenly in a scramble to find living arrangements elsewhere.
“They knew they were going to close down some dorms, therefore the number of freshmen coming in should’ve been decreased or they should’ve not worked on all the dorms at the same time,” Junior Kenya Williams said.
When it was announced that there are no more on-campus housing options available, there were suddenly thousands of students who were seeking to find places to live off campus.
I myself had originally planned to sign a lease this summer, but in the few days following VCU’s housing announcement, two of the spaces I was looking into for next year informed me that they were filling up to capacity due to a large amount of students suddenly seeking housing.
VCU’s failure to inform students in a timely fashion of the housing issues puts all students at a disadvantage. The university has expanded tremendously in the past couple of years, and with higher endowments each year, the growth doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. But can VCU’s administration handle it?
The last minute housing notices and failure to properly assist students who have been living in dorms for most of their time at VCU makes students and parents question whether or not VCU is actually prepared to develop the infrastructure needed to house and support the growing amount of students being accepting each year.
On a very basic level, I am forced to not only question the ability of VCU’s ability to handle its volume of students, but to wonder whether the administration truly values the safety and well being of their students.
Siona Peterous, Contributing Columnist