More beds still needed to keep up with student housing demand

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The number of on-campus housing applicants for fall 2014 was, again, more than the amount of people the University is equipped to house. 

For the 2014–2015 school year, 9,743 students applied to live on campus, and the Division of Housing and Food Services housed 7,363 of those students, according to Alison Kothe, communications and marketing coordinator for DHFS. 

The number of applicants includes freshmen, upperclassmen and transfer students who have been admitted into the University. The number does not include applications students withdrew from the pool.

This year’s number of applicants is down from the number of students who applied for the 2013–2014 school year. Laurie Mackey, program director of the Administrative Systems Modernization Program, told the Texan in 2014 that more than 14,000 students applied for on-campus housing that school year. 

“We never really know what our housing demand will be,” Kothe said. “We never have a clear idea of how many freshmen will be attending the University. We do our very best to accommodate every person who wants to live
on campus.”

According to a report The Daily Texan obtained last April, UT needed 3,900 additional beds on-campus to keep up with student demand for housing in 2013.

Despite the report’s findings, Kothe said UT has been able to accommodate, at some point in the year, every student who has applied for housing and stayed on the housing waitlist.

“If they’re waiting until a month before classes begin, they might need to wait a little longer to receive their official contract,” Kothe said. “We don’t really see that we have a shortage on campus because we have been able to accommodate every student who wants housing.”

The University houses 7,400 students on average each year in its 14 on-campus dormitories. In 2014–2015, approximately 15 percent of enrolled students lived in on-campus housing, compared to other peer institutions that house 20–30 percent of their students, according to the report.

Kothe said DHFS had the most trouble in 2012, when UT had a record-size incoming class of freshmen. That year, DHFS had to create space for students on campus by way of supplemental housing. With supplemental housing, lounges in dormitories are converted to living spaces for students.

A survey in the Residence Hall Needs Assessment reported students would prefer new dormitories be built near the center of campus, although Gage Paine, vice president for student affairs, said building dorms east of campus would be more likely. 

Residential Facilities Director Randall Porter said DHFS does not have new dormitories officially planned.  

“Currently, Housing and Food is not working on any specific housing projects,” Randall Porter said in an email. “There [is] some discussion on campus about increased housing, but there are no formal plans at this point.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the 9,743 students who applied for housing during the 2014-2015 school year included students who had not been admitted into the university. The number only includes students who have been admitted into the university.