Housing struggles persist

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

Tech housing has reached a point where the number of students wanting to live on campus has vastly outnumbered the number of beds available on campus. Meanwhile, the dorms on campus are aging and are not receiving the maintenance they require.

The process of getting on-campus housing (as anyone but an incoming freshman) is incredibly competitive. Rising second-years received priority to live on campus, but for all other current residents, the housing application was chaotic and stressful.

The application opened for all current residents (that are current second-years and above) on Feb. 13 at noon. From that point on, students reported the website being inaccessible for the rest of the day. Additionally, students who were able to access the website reported that the website was so unresponsive that it was nearly unusable.

My personal experience with the housing application lined up with what many other students reported. I had the housing page open starting at 11:45 a.m. and was consistently reloading it from that point until about 7:45 p.m. before I was able to reach the application page.

Once I reached the application page, the website was painfully slow. After I reached the housing contract, I was able to sign the DocuSign, but for the next two hours, I kept getting a “configuration error” and was not able to submit my application.

Not very long after I was finally able to submit my housing application, I heard from other students that they had been placed on the housing waitlist, less than 12 hours after the application had even opened. 

The scale of the issues that students reported experiencing when trying to apply for on-campus housing, which was caused by the amount of traffic that the housing application website received, provides insight into the cause of the main issue with Institute housing: too many students fighting for too few beds. 

While there are many causes for this issue, the main cause cited by students is the growing costs of living in off-campus housing. Atlanta is simply not a city that many college students can afford to live in, and on-campus housing is their only viable option for affordable housing.

This problem has been exacerbated by the lack of new construction in the past almost 20 years at this point.

The most recent residence hall built was 10th and Home in 2005; however, this is geared toward graduate students. 

The most recent large-scale project for building undergraduate housing was in 1995 when the majority of the on-campus apartments were built for the 1996 Olympics as part of the Olympic village.

Although the Institute has recently announced its approved plans to construct a new traditional-style dorm with an estimated 850 beds, this fails to address the overwhelming need for more upperclassman housing, as upperclassmen are barred from living in the traditional-style residence halls. 

On top of not constructing new buildings, the dorms that we already have are aging and the signs of age are becoming increasingly clear to students. It is not uncommon to hear anecdotes from students living on campus that their dorm has plumbing issues, mold, rain coming through their window, their air conditioning and heating not working, etc. Many dorms are left sitting empty during the summer semester with the climate control turned off to save money, causing issues with plumbing and heating systems. 

When issues like these do arise, students often report issues with the process of actually getting it repaired. Students can either submit a maintenance request or call the emergency maintenance phone number when an issue arises, depending on the urgency of the problem, but issues often still take weeks to get resolved.

The issues with the housing situation, as it currently stands, will only be solved if a large-scale housing solution for upperclassmen is constructed. A project on the scale of the North Avenue Apartments is required to meet the ever-growing need for on-campus housing at Tech.