Letter to the Editor: Rebutting Sept. 30 “Our View”

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Letter to the Editor: Rebutting Sept. 30 “Our View”

Alicia R. Browne, CW Contributor

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To the Editor,

I was pleased to see an entire issue of The Crimson White devoted to housing, as this is such an important issue for students. Although it feels like the semester has just begun, at this time of year, students are beginning to feel pressure from off-campus properties to sign leases, and they are thinking about what kind of living situation they want next year. It is critical that they consider their options before making any commitment. Therefore, it was disappointing to see that the “Our View” column in the Sept. 30 edition of the CW shared incorrect and incomplete information about both on- and off-campus housing.

The University does not have a “freshman only” housing policy, and in fact, more than 1,400 upperclassmen are currently living on campus. In addition to returning students who lived on campus last year, this number includes transfer students, international students and a few grad students. Since the University began its Freshman Residency Requirement in 2006, we have recognized a special responsibility to house first-year students, as research demonstrates that students who live on campus their first year are more likely to become involved in campus life and persist toward graduation. 

At the same time, we are really pleased to be able to provide housing for many returning students in residence halls across campus, as we know that living on campus remains a popular option for many sophomores, juniors, seniors and their families. The housing application for current UA students opens on Oct. 15, and online room selection will take place in March. Unlike off-campus properties with unbreakable leases, we allow students to cancel their housing contracts if their plans change, as long as they do so before they move in or classes start. Students who cancel before June 1, 2020, will receive at least part of their housing prepayment. In this way, we encourage our residents to keep their options open and retain the possibility of living on campus, even if they want to explore off-campus options.

The move to an off-campus apartment is a big step for students, as you accurately point out. Therefore, it is unfortunate that no CW writer made readers aware of the resources we offer to help students make good decisions through Off-Campus Resources, an office that Housing and Residential Communities opened more than 10 years ago. The staff in this office do programming across campus to help educate students about things to look for in a property and a lease. They will also review a lease with a student before signing. Their website, offcampushousing.ua.edu, is a wealth of information, from tenant rights and responsibilities to figuring out to make a monthly budget, and we hope students will check it out whether they live on campus or off.

All of the staff in Housing and Residential Communities is committed to helping all students be as happy and successful as they can be. Whether they are moving on campus as freshmen or transfer students or are moving off campus in their next step, we work with students and parents to make sure that they are making smart choices that help set them up for success. I want to encourage all students to take advantage of the resources we provide and contact us if they have any questions about their housing options.

Alicia R. Browne

Director of Housing Administration