Housing Services cancels deposit waiver for lottery

A Housing Services decision not to waive the $300 housing deposit fee for financially strapped students has sparked concern among some students who plan to live in on-campus housing.

But administrators say the decision is meant in part to prevent students from dropping out of the housing lottery.

In past years, the deposit, which students must pay to participate in the housing lottery, was waived for students who demonstrated financial need. This year students will not be offered the option to waive the fee, regardless of their financial situation.Mike Walker, senior assistant dean of students, said the decision to cancel the waiver came because some students who received the waiver and entered the housing lottery later decided not to live on campus.

“This is in part a response to concerns we had about the lottery and students who did not end up living on campus were occupying space and more students had to be put on a waiting list,” Walker said. “This is a step to ensure all of our students that we have a system that works for those who are serious about living on campus.”

Walker said he does not think the change will hurt financially strapped students because students still have time to obtain the money for the deposit.

“We’ve just notified students this week and they have until February to pay the deposit,” Walker said. “They have plenty of time to come up with the money.”

Walker also said the deposit is part of the rent on-campus residents pay.

Justin Lavella, Residence Hall Association president, said he recognizes the need for the change but is concerned some students will be adversely affected.

“The reasoning behind it is accurate and necessary and the majority of students will benefit, but there are going to be students who can’t get the money,” Lavella said. “Some individual cases will have to be looked at and (Housing Services) needs to think about how they are going to address that.”

Walker said he acknowledges some students will find it difficult to come up with the money for the deposit.

“I hope it’s not going to negatively impact students,” Walker said. “It is going to present a challenge to students about how they are going to allocate their money over the course of the year so that they have the $300. Hopefully students will have been given enough notice.”

Lavella said he also is concerned because RHA was not directly notified about the change.

“I found out the way that everyone else did,” Lavella said. “There was a line about it in a letter that was sent to people living on campus.”

Walker said RHA was not contacted because this was not seen as an issue that concerned RHA.

“Anything that deals with housing deals with RHA,” Lavella said. “I’m disappointed that we weren’t told ahead of time. We might have been able to help or offer some insight about this issue. I’m afraid now that it may be too late to make some changes.”

Some students said they are concerned that others may be unable to pay for housing.

“What about the people who can’t afford the $300? Those people are going to end up without housing,” said freshman Don Pitz.

“The fee will definitely be a pain; I might have applied for a waiver,” said Thomas Zlanal, a second-year student.

Other students, however, said the abolishment of the waiver is the fairest way to handle the situation.

“It seems to me that the fairest way to resolve this is to hold all University housing students to the same standards,” said freshman Eric Haskell. “That means the same money, the same time, for everybody.”

-Sara E. Murphy contributed to this report

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