Confusing summer housing causes displacement

By: Evan Shaub – Opinions Editor & Matthew Worsham – Managing Editor

What started as a simple email on June 30 turned into a nightmare for some University of Dayton students this summer. These students are co-ops who lived and worked in Dayton and the surrounding areas, who rented from landlords near or on campus.

When their rental leases expired in late July or early August, many of these students were left without a place to live for two weeks. An investigation of the events surrounding the issue reveals that it is a result of an inflexible summer housing and early arrival policy that must be revised to more readily meet the needs of students.

It started with the June 30 email from the co-op department on the subject of “Housing for August 2014 Extended Stay/Early Arrival Process” that offered instructions for these students to apply for department-sponsored early arrival. The rate was to be $5 per student per night. This email did not make a distinction between students spending the summer in university housing versus landlord housing.

However, UD Housing and Residence Life sent a July 8 email on the subject of “August 2014 Early Arrival,” which stated, “Upperclass students wishing to move back into UD housing for August early arrival from non-UD housing will be eligible to move in no sooner than August 13.” While residents of UD summer housing would be effortlessly relocated to their fall accommodations on Aug. 3, students who had rented from landlords this summer as opposed to choosing the university’s more expensive, less enticing offer of summer housing in Marycrest or Garden apartments would be denied the opportunity to relocate until nearly two weeks after they were to vacate their landlord residences.

Many of these co-ops sent emails to Housing and Residence Life and to the co-op department complaining of the inconsistency that existed between the initial email they received on June 30 saying they could move in on Aug. 3 and the email they received nine days later on July 8 saying they couldn’t move in until Aug. 13.

According to fifth-year civil engineering major Evan Nicholas, electrical engineering major Cory Bucksar and mechanical engineering major Kent Moneysmith, and senior civil engineering major Geoff Messing, some of the students complained that they received this email only three weeks before they were due to move out of their current residences, that many co-ops couldn’t afford to take two weeks off from work should they lose their housing, and that there was little to no justification given for why they shouldn’t be able to move into an already prepared house, especially when students who lived in university housing over the summer were allowed to move in on Aug. 3.

After working “in partnership with the School of Engineering to locate several spaces that we [Housing and Residence Life] can offer as transitional spaces,” Housing and Residence Life offered a new deal to the co-ops. In a July 24 email on the subject of “Transitional Housing for Engineering Co-ops,” Housing and Residence Life acknowledged “that as part of your educational experience, you [the students] are participating in a co-op whose dates do not match the start of these [housing] contract periods” as set forth in the Early Arrival Policy and housing contracts. The co-ops were subsequently offered housing from Aug. 3-13 on the properties of 415 Lowes, 31 Rogge and in Marycrest.

The cost was to be $15 per student per night, a rate equivalent to the “Personal Convenience” charge rate offered under the Early Arrival Policy as opposed to $5 per student per night for the “Department Sponsored Group” charge. There were a total of 16 spaces, 10 male and six female, available on a first come, first served basis. The students interviewed estimated a total of 27 students required accommodation.

Hearing this, many co-ops say they refused to pay the increased rate and took up temporary residence on couches of friends and family. Others were stuck living out of their cars.

Fortunately, this nightmare is over and all students have moved into their assigned houses, but this is a problem that can’t happen again. Not when it jeopardizes an educational opportunity like a co-op, into which students, employers and educators have invested so much time and energy. It’s odd that a seemingly simple conflict should take so long to be resolved with such lackluster results, but until this is addressed, the best advice seems to be this: read the fine print, but don’t be surprised if things still aren’t what they seem to be.