The school year at the University of Miami has just begun and while campus is lively by day, come night there is an increased amount of empty beds.
The statistic is noteworthy when compared with 2006, when some students had to live with their Residential Assistants because of limited housing.
The economy and Red Road Commons are to blame, according to Director of Residence Halls James Smart.
“You can’t just put up 800 beds across the street from a university and see it not have an impact,” Smart said of the new apartment complex on Red Road.
The university is now allowing graduate students to live on campus.
Smart said local landlords have suffered most. The new real estate competition in the area is making it difficult for many renters to find clients.
In today’s economy, many students from surrounding neighborhoods who previously chose to live on campus are forced to live at home and commute to school.
Other students are finding that renting houses or apartments nearby is cheaper than paying for the dorms. Properties are dropping prices by around 25 to 30 percent according to Smart, so high-end buildings that were once too expensive for college students are now affordable.
Since the Department of Residence Halls puts freshmen first, Hecht and Stanford are the most populated. The goal for this year was to put all freshmen in the towers, but the large size of the incoming class made this impossible.
About 30 to 50 freshmen live in Mahoney, Pearson and Eaton.
While financially having less students living on campus is a disadvantage to the university, Smart said the standard of living will be positively impacted.
Extra space makes it easier to fix common dorm problems such as roommate issues, students wanting to relocate, and groups of friends wanting to live near one another.
Brian Law, an architecture student, did not find this true. Over the summer his only roommate in a four-person apartment dropped out of his apartment. He was placed in a six person apartment.
Law wanted to enter a less-crowded apartment but UM told him none were available. He could not move off campus as he could not find a replacement.
“I called a lot and tried to get switched into an apartment with less people,” Law said. “They said everything was too full, but at the same time I couldn’t find someone to take my spot, so it was a strange situation.”
Smart estimates that both the Apartment Area and University Village will be above 90 percent full this semester.
“I definitely wouldn’t say we’re empty,” he said, “but we’re not overcrowded like in recent years.”