Students remain concerned about housing as UT pursues ‘lottery system’ for 2023-2024 school year | Campus news

In recent years, universities across the country have experienced housing crises due to overstaffing. Universities have proposed solutions in offer financial incentives for delaying enrollment and convert buildings on campus into temporary residences as they draw up plans for new rooms. In other areas, administrators have not been able to find a solution, leave students put your life plans on hold because they cannot afford housing.

The University of Tennessee is currently facing a similar problem. After admitting approximately 6,800 incoming students in fall 2022 — largest recorded class in UT history — students faced difficulties in finding accommodation for the 2023-2024 school year. Even though UT is rent a Holiday Inn and apartments in Quarry Trailstudents still struggle to find accommodation.

Jaxx Fox, a first-year graduate student majoring in information science, explained his feelings about the situation.

“The university absolutely does not handle freshmen appropriately and just shrugs when they express their struggle with housing and the cost of living. For some of you, you can get by, but a lot of students can’t and end up in dire financial straits on their own or with their families,” Fox said.

Fox had a unique experience with UT housing. They moved to Knoxville in 2008 to attend UT and graduated in 2012. Since then they have remained in Knoxville and now own a home in the area. Fox noted how times have changed since their undergrad at UT.

“I remember when the upper classes could be in dorms. My husband, who graduated from UT the same year as me, left campus as a junior and then came back as a senior to focus on his studies,” Fox said.

Although upperclassmen can still live in dorms, students are finding it increasingly difficult to find a room with the policies UT has started using. Last year, UT implemented the “Lottery System” where students submit their housing applications and those who receive housing are chosen at random.

Many students think this system is unfair, especially upperclass students looking to continue living in Laurel or Vol Hall. In the past, UT used a “same room, new year” method of providing housing for its students, but due to high demandthis is no longer guaranteed.

Just ten years ago, Fox’s husband was able to live off campus and return because it allowed him to better focus on his studies. This is not an option for some students, however, as they must live on campus in order to maintain their enrollment. Many students use their financial aid and scholarships to pay for on-campus housing. One such student is junior Madeline Sims, who is majoring in social work.

“My financial aid pays for my housing, without it I can’t afford to go to UT,” Sims said. “Part of the stipulation of my financial aid is that I live on campus. If I don’t get aid, I can’t live in Knoxville. I can’t pay for it.

With the “lottery system” that UT has in place to determine housing availability for upperclassmen, many students have had to find off-campus housing. Some students are even camp outside popular apartment complexes near campus in order to find accommodation.

“I waited to get a tenn lease for, like, twenty hours, and luckily I got it. Before I got my lease, it was stressful and I didn’t know what to do. Housing in Knoxville is expensive and rare, so I’m lucky to know where I live,” said Riley Brennan, a sophomore majoring in marketing.

Not every student can say the same as Brennan. Michela Campe, a sophomore studying business analytics and management, signed a lease in an apartment complex near campus for the upcoming school year, but received an email after signing saying that his signed lease did not guarantee the accommodation.

“[The email] said, “Having a signed lease does NOT guarantee your placement at this time due to the volume of applicants.” Like, why are you even giving leases then? They did that to tons of kids,” Campe said. “I waited too long to quit at my current resort and the price has gone up almost $300 over what I’m paying now. This is nonsense.”

There are still students on the waiting list for on-campus housing and obviously not everyone will receive housing. Students who already live off-campus are suffering from rising rates and limited space in their current complex, so they continue to look elsewhere.

There are off-campus housing options available, but some of these options are now fully leased, so they are no longer available to students. There is currently availability at Flagship Kerns, Knox High Apartments, The Orchard of Knoxville, Barclay House, Maplehurst Park and select URE Housing properties.

If a student is looking for accommodation, these properties are worth researching and viewing. Other than that, there’s not much to do other than sit and wait.

Sitting and waiting isn’t an option for some students, like Sims.

“I don’t have a backup plan. I have a meeting next week with my advisor to move into the College of Social Work’s online bachelor’s degree program,” Sims said.

Not every student has time to wait 8 p.m. for a lease, like Brennan. If housing isn’t even guaranteed for those who have signed off-campus leases, as Campe said, students feel confused and helpless.

“UT has been so focused on their incoming classes that they have forgotten about their upper classes. We’re just as important as incoming freshmen for enrollment, so it seems unfair that we’ve been stiffed that way,” Sims said.

As part of a solution to this housing crisis, UT plans to build two new halls of residence as part of their master plan for housing, although the construction schedule is unclear at this time. As plans stand, one of the wards will house around 525 beds and the other around 750. The finished product does not come soon enough in the minds of the upper classes who are frantically looking for a place to live.

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