Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
August 31, 1999
Letter to editor from Acting Associate Vice-President (student affairs) on student housing
Editor's Note: This letter to the editor appeared in the Guelph Mercury Aug. 31
I am writing to clarify the current housing situation at the University of Guelph, reported by the Mercury August 25.
Staff from several University of Guelph offices - student affairs, residence, and our off-campus housing offices - have been working closely with individual students and student groups to ensure that students who have not yet found housing have a place to live once classes start.
It is true, as reported by the Mercury, that the University has a higher than average number of students on the waiting list for residence this year in spite of the fact that the University=s first year intake was virtually the same as last year. There are a number of factors that have combined to produce this waiting list: 1) a higher percentage of new students took advantage of the University=s guarantee of campus residence; 2) a larger number of returning students requested residence on-campus, even though we alerted them last winter that there would not be sufficient on-campus housing to accommodate them all and encouraged them to develop other housing options; and 3) the city of Guelph housing market has changed in several ways.
On this last point, we have noted the tight rental housing situation in Guelph this year, as well as a shift in the composition of the housing supply. There are fewer self-contained houses or whole apartments being offered to students. Instead, students have encountered more shared accommodation, such as rooms within a house or apartment. This latter category is less preferred by some students, who continue to search for houses and apartments they can live in with friends or on their own. Acknowledging an increasing interest in residence from our returning students, last year the Board approved plans to build a new 500-bed residence expressly for returning students which will open in the fall of 2001.
While we have approximately 290 students still showing on our residence waiting list, as the Mercury accurately reported, this is a Asoft@ number. There are students who find off-campus accommodations but who do not call to have their names removed. The Off-Campus Housing Office is working diligently to assist those who are still on the waiting list. There are still off-campus housing vacancies available. We daily post new accommodation listings received from landlords and homeowners within the community. As of noon today, 146 off-campus listings remain on our off-campus housing bulletin board. Moreover, we are accommodating students who still do not have housing by the start of classes by offering them temporary/transitional space in our residences or in family homes.
In closing, I would like to thank the Mercury for bringing the student housing issue to the community=s attention. This issue is actually part of a larger challenge facing us all in the future. That challenge is the enormous increase -- some 40% -- in demand for places at universities projected over the next ten years. As this year's experience demonstrates, our University must have additional resources in order to increase our enrolment. Universities are working closely with the provincial government to plan for managing this increased demand--and its implication for preserving our universities' quality and accessibility.
We appreciate the generosity of the Guelph community in offering housing opportunities for our students and thank our many friends who have given help this year. We, of course, welcome any additional support. Please call 824-4120 ext. 3357 to post your listing.
Acting Associate Vice-President
Student Affairs University of Guelph