CW / Hannah Saad
The University of Alabama will use two off-campus apartment complexes, The Lofts at City Center and East Edge, to house students in the fall semester after a large incoming freshman class overwhelmed residence halls on campus.
UA Housing and Residential Communities has delivered 9,200 student housing assignments for the fall, which includes assignments at residence halls, The Lofts and East Edge. There are about 8,500 beds on campus.
The University leased 550 beds at The Lofts and 265 beds at East Edge. The Lofts are located about 1.5 miles from campus on 10th Avenue East, and East Edge is located next to the University of Alabama School of Law.
In late June, returning campus residents were encouraged to volunteer to live at an off-campus site. Now, student housing assignments at off-campus locations are mandatory to accommodate incoming freshmen.
“We apologize for any inconvenience, and we want to assure you that we did not make this change lightly,” the housing assignment email said. “It was required by our need to meet the housing demand from incoming freshmen, who are required to live on campus.”
Matthew Kerch, executive director of housing and residential communities, said most students who were relocated to off-campus apartments are upperclassmen.
“We’re fortunate to be able to offer our students excellent rooms and facilities at [The Lofts and East Edge],” Kerch said. “Free and convenient transportation is provided to campus. Great amenities are available, and students are also able to keep their spaces for the summer at no additional cost.”
Students who are relocated to The Lofts or East Edge are expected to follow the Housing and Residential Communities housing contract, and their rent will be billed to their student accounts.
There is no financial incentive for the relocation, but these students will enter a 12-month lease, unlike campus residents who are required to move out during the summer. Students living at The Lofts and East Edge can stay in their apartments through winter and spring breaks when most on-campus residence halls close.
Crimson Ride, the University’s bus service, has routes to The Lofts and East Edge. The bus runs every half hour and brings students to the Bus Hub on the east side of campus.
Julian Wyatt, a senior majoring in international studies, was relocated to The Lofts. He applied for housing in the spring semester and was assigned to Ridgecrest East. He learned about the reassignment when one of his roommates told him to check his email.
“This instance shows how much UA doesn’t respect their students, not even having the decency to give us a warning about the possibility of being moved,” he said. “I am lucky that I have not been badly affected by this, and I am sure there are students who are far more inconvenienced and harmed by this.”
Wyatt has access to a car in Tuscaloosa but said he worries for students who will rely solely on Crimson Ride buses to take them to and around campus.
While Wyatt said he looks forward to The Lofts’ proximity to ALDI, a grocery store located in the same parking lot, he said he’ll have to make adjustments.
“I am not looking forward to the inevitable deflecting and insincere apologies by UA, even though their incompetence has thrown many students’ plans into disarray,” he said.
This is the second year in a row that students living in residence halls were reassigned with short notice.
After a surge of COVID-19 cases in the first week of the fall 2020 semester, the University forced students to relocate from Burke West Residence Hall to make room for isolation facilities on campus. In this instance, uprooted students received an additional $250 in Bama Cash.
This year, relocated students can cancel their housing contract with no penalty, and Housing and Residential Communities will provide a full refund.