IMAM: More upperclassmen housing is a good idea

The University should work to provide more cheap, affordable housing

A couple of months ago, Charlottesville Tomorrow reported that Brailsford & Dunlavey, a national real estate firm, advised the University to consider building a 300-bedroom apartment complex for upper-class students close to Central Grounds. No plans are currently set in stone, as a proposal will be made to the next full Board of Visitors meeting in June. Given the growing size of the University, affordability of on-Grounds housing in comparison to off-Grounds housing and proximity to Grounds of the proposed location, I hope the University follows this advice and builds the new residence hall.

The biggest reason the University should follow through with this plan is the growing need for upperclass housing in general. As a second year, my class became the largest class to join the University at the time I joined, with the class below me being roughly the same size. In response to this increase in class size, the University has already begun making housing accommodations by opening a new dorm and beginning renovations on some first-year dorms in 2015. If the undergraduate population continues to grow in size and is prompting such plans for first-year housing, it only seems to follow that further housing accommodations for upperclass students be made as well.

More specifically, this plan for upperclass housing in particular would provide a more affordable and desirable housing option to upperclassmen. Excluding language houses and residential colleges, returning students’ on-Grounds major choices for housing are Bice, Copeley, Faulkner, Lambeth and Johnson Malone Weedon. All of these locations are more removed from Central Grounds, whereas the proposed location for this dorm, Brandon Ave., would be much closer. This is directly at odds with the needs and desires of undergraduate students, who ranked convenient access to classes and the community as the number one factor in deciding where to live in a survey. Meanwhile, according to Brad Noyes, senior vice president at Brailsford & Dunlavey, off-Grounds housing is about 33 percent more expensive than on-Grounds housing. Students shouldn’t have to sacrifice academically convenient and culturally-centered housing due to financial burden, and building a dorm in this location would provide a solution to those facing this issue.

More convenient access to classes and the community would also better serve the needs of transfer students. Currently, transfer students looking to live on Grounds due to not knowing many people here or not knowing much about off-Grounds options are left to choose from those inconveniently located dorms listed above. Faced with the task of transitioning to a new school, transfer students should have a housing option that allows them to spend more time on and fully enjoy Central Grounds without going so far out of their way.

With a growing undergraduate student body and financially-constrained students forced to live in inconvenient locations the University should provide more centrally located on-Grounds housing to better meet the needs of current students and incoming transfer students. Creating a more desirable upperclass housing option could also make the University more money than it does from those currently available. With varying prices of different upperclass dorms (also depending upon whether the room is a single or double), the University could charge a slight premium for a new, centrally located building with single bedrooms at a price competitive with that at which similar off-Grounds housing would likely be. This is especially the case considering that students able to afford off-Grounds housing who choose it due to issues such as proximity to Grounds may choose on-Grounds housing when presented with this option. The proposed dorm fits the bill for a housing option that would allow the University to better meet the needs of its students while also increasing the number of upperclass students choosing on-Grounds housing. Students, particularly transfers, should welcome the proposal.

Alyssa Imam is an Opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at a.imam@cavalierdaily.com.

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