Since last year, University of Miami students have been living in the Holiday Inn on U.S. 1 because there was not enough available housing for them in the University. This year, the situation has worsened, and students are living both in the Holiday Inn and the Dadeland Marriott. This means that over 300 UM students are living in hotels.
In other words, UM is facing a housing crisis.
Hurricane Frances highlighted the seriousness of the housing problem when hotel students evacuated to the Convocation Center on campus (the hotels were not considered structurally sound). The University handled the hurricane situation well, but for the unlucky hotel students that have to deal with the day-to-day hassles of living off campus in a commercial hotel, it was unfortunate that they couldn’t even be in comfortable surroundings during the hurricane lockdown.
Living off campus is not a tragedy, as UM’s large commuter population can attest to. It is, however, incredibly unfair that someone that has paid the same tuition, room, and board as the students living in the residential colleges is unable to live on campus.
Among the students assigned to hotels are transfer and international students new to UM that instead of enjoying the college experience they were looking forward to -being able to walk to the dining halls, UC, and classrooms in under 10 minutes -are forced to cross U.S.1 or take the Metrorail or shuttle to campus.
Granted, some students enjoy living in the hotels since the rooms are larger, all rooms have a bathroom (shared by only two people), and hotel personnel change the sheets and towels. In fact, this housing would be entirely acceptable if the students living in the hotels had chosen to do so. That, however, is not always the case.
It’s one thing if returning students are given the option to live in the hotels and willingly accept it. It’s quite another to put excited, bright-eyed new students in an impersonal, off-campus structure. These students- and their parents – are disappointed and turned off from the University when they find they are living in a hotel. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if hotel students were less likely to get involved on campus and have a harder time making friends than their on-campus counterparts, since it’s more difficult for them to make it to the University for club meetings, among other things.
The housing situation will only improve once the University treats this issue as a top priority and addresses it by building more on-campus housing. Solving this problem was the motivation behind constructing the University Village, but that project has stalled so many times that it’s starting to look like a more immediate solution is necessary. Building a School of Music Library, an extension to the School of Communication, and a new School of Nursing are all important academically-speaking, but no one will want to come to UM for its academics once they find out they won’t be guaranteed a dorm on campus.