U Students Grapple with Uncertain Future of Housing


Emily Rincon

Chapel Glen at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Dec. 3, 2021. (Photo by Emily Rincon | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Marisa Angulo, Investigative Writer


In the Spring 2022 semester, students of the University of Utah applied for housing for the upcoming fall term and over 3,000 students were left with their names on the waitlist. Rooms were filled up within the first few possible reservation times.

As the summer began, many students remained on the waitlist without anywhere to live for the upcoming academic year — they were left to contemplate whether to stay on the waitlist for on-campus housing or look for off-campus alternatives.

Recently, the rent in Salt Lake City has spiked. According to Deseret News, Salt Lake City is “the 54th most expensive city, with the median one-bedroom costing $1,280 and a two-bedroom unit costing $1,670. That’s up 19.3% year over year.”

Donna Seidel, a parent of a U student, said they looked at off-campus rentals last January before hearing about the housing situation.

“These places were hobbles and there were 3,040 applications, and they wouldn’t tell us how many people were in front us until you put in an application,” Seidel said. “I’m like, ‘Why would anybody rent these places?’ but there were lines wrapped around the block just to view it. And we’re talking about, you know, over $1,000 a month, — that’s nuts for a room.”

For this academic year, freshmen were offered multiple on-campus dorm options: the new Kahlert Village, Sage Point, Chapel Glen, Benchmark Plaza, Gateway Heights, the Guest House, Lassonde Studios and Officers Circle. Upperclassmen were offered a few on-campus options including Officers Circle, Lassonde Studios, Shoreline Ridge and the Marriott Honors Community. There are a few remaining off-campus housing options that the U offers such as Downtown Commons and U of U On The Draw.

The Waiting Game

“I’m doing a very male-dominated STEM major, and the Living Learning Community that I would qualify for is so male-dominated,” said Erica Seidel, a junior at the U. “It’s not even a guarantee because I think most of those are pretty much guys, and that’s not something I’m comfortable with doing.”

On July 1 of this year, the U began their partnership with the Draw in Sugarhouse — a dormitory of Westminster College — in order to give students who remained on the waitlist another option for university housing. The Draw is about 13 minutes away from campus with light traffic. The U offers free public transportation through UTA, and their buses make stops near the Draw dormitory.

“I actually got off the waitlist [on] Tuesday [July 8, 2022] … because the U added [the Draw] that they made a deal with, but at that point, I had already secured my own housing,” said Hannah Lawrence, a U student. “So if I had just waited, I probably would have gotten housing, but it was just kind of up in the air. So I decided to get my own place.”

HRE updated the campus community as on-campus housing spots were filling up and options were expanding.

“We maintained a pretty active waitlist process and would contact the students as we had space open up, but everyone who chose to stay on the waitlist had received an offer,” said HRE Executive Director Sean Grube. “We continue to add individuals every day that contact about housing too.”

This year, HRE also started a new program called Home Away from Home, where U alumni offered rooms within their nearby-campus homes to 25 current university students. The cost to students was dropped from $5,000 to $2,600 a semester. After being admitted to the program, a student can meet with any of the 40 hosts to find the best fit for them.

UC Berkeley — a public university located in Berkeley, California — has recently been under fire for their housing situation. Because of the university’s increasing enrollment numbers, many residents of the Berkeley area are being priced out of their town and are forced to move elsewhere.

Due to such high price increases around the UC Berkeley area, students are struggling to find adorable housing. Some fear that because of this price increase, Berkeley might have to restrict enrollment so much so that “it will crowd out racial diversity or out-of-state students,” according to the New York Times.

With a lack of housing options, a long waitlist, increasing rent prices in Salt Lake City, ever-growing first-year enrollment numbers and frustrated campus community members, could the U eventually face the same problem?


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