The Myth of Campus Housing

Headshot_GenesisGenesis Barraza is a freshman communications major.

Because the flight from Florida to California is quite costly and my part-time earning Florida minimum wage was unsustainable, I wasn’t able to visit school before I moved here in August. Instead, I dedicated myself to crunching numbers for my budget when I would actually be living here. Whichever remaining costs that were not covered by financial aid or scholarships would have to be divided by 33 weeks (the time we actually spend in school) to make sure I could afford to live here.  I didn’t feel very confident about the feasibility of living here until I had secured an on-campus job. That was in August, and then just as soon as that was over I began to stress about surviving here the following summer, which was 10 months away. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a worrier. That said, when it was time to apply for the housing lottery, the uncertainty was more than I could handle. I choose the situation that would allow me to have more control: off-campus housing.

The first day of official apartment hunting included going online to the school’s off campus housing “tool” I was greeted by a quite comforting disclaimer asking that USF not be held accountable for the validity of rental postings. After excitedly emailing a couple of Craigslist listings, I received quite a few responses from people who were living in another state and “could not come down to handle business” and wanted me to send money their way. Oh I sent something their way all right: #negativevibes. These scams only added to my long list of preoccupations; how was I supposed to plan and budget when I couldn’t even find a legitimate posting? Should I just incorporate the cost of scams into my budget to put my fragile heart at ease?

The school is admitting more and more freshmen every year, and while I enjoy the companionship in the long line during lunch time, I do not enjoy the fact that the chances of continued on-campus housing are constantly dwindling. We can’t even count on the rumors of a new residence hall in place of the ROTC building, because it’s not providing an immediate solution for students who are looking for housing right now. Just based on the school’s current admissions pace, even if they do construct said building, they will admit just enough students to fill the available on campus housing and another 2/3 of that to fend for themselves.

But hey, you can filter through the scams and find a good place to lease, right? You’ve all been working on your credit and make 3 times the rent amount, right? Oh, you don’t? Don’t worry about it. Stop stressing; don’t your parents make enough? Except a lot of the places for rent don’t accept cosigners. Bummer. Maybe try to find enough friends to make it through the year on the three consecutive overnight stays they are allotted monthly in the dorms.

The truth is that by increasing the annual intake of freshmen, but not having the proper housing accommodations for them all, USF is spitting us out into a city where 20 percent of San Francisco’s homeless population are ages 18-24, according to the 2015 Homeless Point-In-Time Count & Survey.   One of the things that I loved most about USF was the small size of the school. But now it seems that as USF’s population increases, currently enrolled students who need help finding housing in order to return to school are left in the dust.  

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