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Upperclassmen Unsatisfied by New Housing Policy

By Sammi Brennan and Claire Farrow

CF: UT can make college students weep tears of joy at the prospect of living in the Barrymore Hotel, provided this news is preceded by weeks of hair tearing, days of crying, and a severe lack of communication.

I always tell my friends, professors, classmates, basically anyone, that the reasons I came to this school didn’t include the weather, but rather the ability to double major in four years, small class sizes, close-knit campus, and four-year guaranteed on-campus housing. Well, that last promise has only been fulfilled to the crappiest, barest of minimums. Yes, as of Monday morning at 10:04 a.m., I have been guaranteed housing in the Barrymore Hotel for my senior year of college.

I remember when the most scandalous thing UT did with housing was moving everyone out of the Barrymore, or as it was known then, the HoJo (Howard Johnson). And that was Spring of 2014, my freshman year of college. The backlash wasn’t that people were taken out of the HoJo, but rather the miniscule timetable and lack of communication.

SB: Most of the people I knew who were placed in the HoJo were assigned housing there mainly because they were late on either their deposits or applications. Or they lived in Austin during the great residence hall flood of 2015.

CF: Right now, my main emotion is relief, because I’m not forced to go apartment hunting in the next couple months as I’m attempting to finish this semester and plan out my last two semesters of college. But am I bitter? Absolutely. Especially when upcoming sophomores are going to live in dorms with kitchens, something I wasn’t even allowed to do until my junior year of college. But hey, mini-fridges and shuttle-trekking for campus food has always been the dream.  

SB: And isn’t it a teeny bit suspicious that the University of Tampa has graced us with a Starbucks and is currently building a multi-story fitness center, yet upperclassmen are racking their brains trying to find housing? I’ll be honest, I have had my share of warmed chocolate croissants. Initially, the description of the future fitness center seemed as if my wildest dreams would come true. Mcniff has slowly turned into fight club with its now four working treadmills. But when my future on campus crumbled before me in a span of a week, I wondered if UT should have prioritized better, perhaps allocating funds towards ensuring on-campus housing to upperclassmen. Sure, a brand spanking new Starbucks and a fitness paradise would grab the attention of prospective students, but what about current students? Was this magnificent Starbucks our going away present? Here’s a frappucino, now get lost.       

CF: I remarked to one of my roommates this weekend, as I saw two students sitting on the curb outside Vaughn Center, “I can’t believe that I will envy them if I don’t get on-campus housing.” And it’s true. Safe and affordable off campus housing around UT is practically non-existent. UT should have prepared us for this new housing policy by purchasing affordable apartment complexes nearby, like USF and UF do.
I would have had to spend $700 or more a month for housing just so I could be within walking distance of campus. An unsafe walking distance. Yes, I would’ve had to trek past the infamous Cass street just to get to campus everyday. And, I’ll probably have night classes at least once more before I graduate.
SB: And if I felt uneasy walking back to Urso at 1:30 in the morning, imagine walking back to the Barrymore.
CF: My mobility is currently non-existent, not only do I not own a car, but I don’t even have a license to drive. UT is assuming that those who were forced off campus will have access to reliable transportation. News flash: I will never get a car so long as I am in college, because– and this is an uncommon concept– I am not rich, my family is not rich. I could only go to this school because I got a really nice scholarship.  Also I’m from out of state. Do I really want to hunt for an apartment in a state that I’m not necessarily planning on living in once I graduate?
SB: And what about those who are graduating early? Now they have to find an apartment close to campus with some means of transportation and a cheap rent and only a four-month lease?   

What bothers me the most about this entire housing situation is the amount of money this school has received from me in my three years here and I was nearly dragged to the curb like rotting trash. Tuition, textbooks, housing, meal plans…I’ve contributed tens of thousands of dollars to this establishment. In what world does it make sense to have a student who has stayed on campus throughout their entire UT career, paid all of their fees on time, and maintained an optimal grade point average, be forced to have a early-life crisis one semester prior to graduating college?

For the past two years, I have had the seven meals a week dining plan. Last year I was a Resident Assistant and this year I currently live in Urso. I followed the 15 meals a week dining plan my freshman year and I have no desire to go back. Is it too much to ask for a stove top? Something we worked towards since we were underclassmen.There’s only so much hard french toast and soggy tortilla chips I can stomach. Maybe if UT offered fresh fruit and vegetables at the grocer and we didn’t have to smuggle them from the cafe… just maybe I would voluntarily apply for the 15 meals a week dining plan.

CF: For many students, the change in housing comes at a time where it wouldn’t be worth it to transfer schools, just to be guaranteed housing. Honestly, if this had happened during my sophomore year, I would be on the phone right now with my mom telling her that I want to transfer to another school. But it’s not worth it at this point. As a double major in two very different studies, many of my credits probably wouldn’t transfer to another college.

I can only imagine how current sophomores and freshmen are feeling now. Sure, a lot of them are quite possibly getting the pick of a lifetime when it comes to living space, but how annoying it must be to have that nagging thought in your head — it all goes downhill from here.

If I were an incoming student, I would be seriously considering transferring to another university after seeing how I will be treated once I’ve reached “upperclassman” status. Of course, if the campus turns into a freshman-only living space, I guess all of the empty buildings could be knocked down and turned into parking garages. Maybe then we’ll have enough parking for everyone.


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1 Comment on Upperclassmen Unsatisfied by New Housing Policy

  1. R & K Voci // March 3, 2016 at 10:21 pm // Reply

    Our daughter was placed in the HoJo as a freshman. The fact that this was even an option came as somewhat of a surprise to us, since it is carefully glossed over in communication with prospective students and families. Once we were made aware, I confidently reassured my daughter that the university would not place the youngest of its students, especially females, in an off-campus, open-to-the-public, no-dining-hall, walk-through-the-city-in-the-dark housing arrangement.
    We were wrong.
    Although we agree that the HoJo/Barrymore is much more appropriate for older students than first year students, we are not convinced that this recent decision gets at the root of the problem. The mere fact that the university has utilized this type of overflow housing for the past 15+ years conveys that something isn’t quite right.
    Unless the objective is to drive all upperclassmen (and their housing/dining $) off campus, hence eliminating the need for UT to rent space from a hotel, this recent decision is just a band aid at best. UT can do better.


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