On-campus housing crisis has students scrambling

Lakeside Village on Feb. 11, 2022.
Lakeside Village on Feb. 11, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Much like the city of Miami, the University of Miami is dealing with a serious housing crisis. Both the city and school are dealing with increased demand for housing and rising housing prices and in UM’s case, a lack of available housing.

Starting last week, rising sophomores were given housing appointments to secure either an apartment or suite in Lakeside Village. However, many students were never given the opportunity to sign up for a room.

“I originally tried to get a three or four person bedroom the first day reservations were available,” said Regina Potenza, a freshman broadcast journalism major who had a reservation to secure a unit at 11:00 am. “I was really disappointed to find out that all the rooms were sold out by 10:30 a.m.”

Potenza tried all room configurations that Lakeside offers. Regardless, all rooms in the coveted Lakeside Village were occupied by the time her housing appointment began.

“I tried to get into a four-bedroom, then a three-bedroom, then a two-bedroom and finally a one- bedroom,” said Potenza, who plans on studying abroad in Spring 2023 so she wanted to live in Lakeside for her fall semester at UM. “It was really frustrating that they were sold out.”

Some students are giving up on-campus living next year after this Lakeside debacle and opting to move off campus instead.

“The whole process has been terrible,” said Stone Sparkes, a freshman interactive media and business marketing major who will be moving off-campus to The Standard next year. “Everyone we have talked to is in the same situation.”

Beyond the frustrations of not living on-campus, students who opt to move off-campus are also losing their on-campus deposits. Since Sparkes decided to not live on-campus next year, he will not be refunded his $500 deposit that he put down in order to try to move into Lakeside.

According to Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs for Housing Strategic Initiatives, Richard Sobaram, all existing on-campus options have to be exhausted before the deposit can be returned to students.

“If a student cancels their application before a space can be assigned, the $500 prepayment will be added to their student account as a credit to be applied toward any Fall 2022 charges, including tuition, fees, etc.,” Sobaram said.

While Housing and Residential Life (HRL) is attempting to house these students in other living spaces such as Eaton Residential College, incoming sophomores are frustrated with the lack of transparency surrounding the on-campus housing process. Many students only put down the pre-payment of $500 in the hopes of living in Lakeside next year, but feel that they were not informed of how competitive it would be to reside in Lakeside next year.

“It was Lakeside or nothing,” said Michael Giannetta, a freshman sports administration major who is living with Sparkes at The Standard next year. “I would not have applied for on-campus housing if I knew it would’ve been filled out.”

Sobaram says that students had plenty of information about how quickly Lakeside would fill.

“HRL received applications from more than 2,000 prioritized rising sophomores seeking to live in Lakeside Village,” Sobaram said. “HRL was transparent in their communications to applicants about the number of qualified applicants in this year’s Room Selection process and also noted that receiving an appointment time does not guarantee availability in any particular residential area or model.”

The lack of rooms for on-campus applicants is not only an issue at Lakeside Village, but at other residential colleges all across campus. This week, the University Village complex was sold out hours after the portal opened.

“As of Wednesday, Feb. 16, the 4-person and 2-person units in University Village are sold out. The single occupancy units sold out on Thursday, Feb. 17,” Sobaram said.

Now that the University Village and Lakeside are fully occupied for the coming year, some students are left with nowhere to live next year, especially for rising upperclassmen.

“My appointment time for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment was at 2:00 p.m.,” said Hunter Wicklund, a sophomore marine biology and ecology major. “By 11:58 a.m. all the housing was filled up.”

This is not the first time this semester that HRL has faced a similar debacle of too many students and not enough housing. Spring 2022 admitted freshmen came to campus without on-campus housing. Some spring admits were temporarily housed at the THesis Hotel Miami and the Miami Marriott in Dadeland. Other students were housed in renovated study rooms in on-campus dorms, a living situation that has now become permanent.

“The converted study room residents were permanently assigned to those rooms and they are presently full,” said Sobaram. “All Dadeland Marriott residents were relocated on or before Feb. 5. Nearly half of the THesis hotel residents have been relocated to on-campus assignments, with the rest expected to be completed by next week.”

This lack of housing for students will continue to be an issue until the opening of Centennial Village in 2025. The Hecht Residential College, a housing complex with two twelve-story towers, will be demolished this summer to make way for the Centennial Village.

As incoming freshman classes plan to remain the same size next year, housing will not create any drastic housing plans to accommodate all students.

“First-year students will be assigned to live in Stanford, Mahoney and Pearson Residential Colleges next year,” Sobaram said.