UT should pay close attention to responses to graduate housing survey

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University Apartments houses many of the University’s graduate students and their families.
University Apartments houses many of the University’s graduate students and their families.

On Feb. 11 the Graduate Student Assembly sent out a housing survey to better serve graduate students and enhance their living experience. Questions include how many rooms in an apartment graduate students prefer, what do they think is a reasonable monthly rent per person and how far from campus they would be willing to live. Responses could lead to the construction of new graduate student housing.  

The survey was developed over the course of four weeks in conjunction with the GSA Housing Committee as well as John Dalton, the assistant dean of graduate studies.  

“It’s great GSA is getting so involved with this," Dalton said. "It is absolutely crucial to understand what graduate students like to have. It’s not just a place to go home to sleep but a place to actually live." 

So far GSA has received over 2,000 responses out of 11,000 graduate students in total. Brian Wilkey, president of GSA, told the Texan that they used different channels to distribute the survey. 

“So far we have used the graduate school’s Listserv, also sent things out through our graduate student assembly members and to our representatives to make sure they get the word out to their department,” Wilkey said. 

After collecting all the responses, the housing committee will analyze the data and present findings to the graduate school administrators. From there, Sasaki Associates, a University-contracted planning and design firm, will assess the feasibility of building graduate housing. Factors such as apartment capacity and the types of housing the school is able to build will be taken into consideration. 

“It would be great for different graduate students from different disciplines to have an opportunity to interact,” Dalton said.  

If a new housing project is given the green light by the University, UT could leverage housing benefits as a recruiting strategy against its peer institutions. While the possibility of offering every graduate student housing is slim, the Graduate School says it is open to new ideas to enhance the academic feel the students' living environment. 

“Someone had an idea of having a faculty in residence that could serve as a mentor to some graduate students," Dalton said. "I love that idea. I think that’s really unique for the graduate student population." 

Unfortunately, most current UT graduate students will not be able to enjoy new dedicated housing any time soon as the project is still very much in the preliminary stages. But the effort should not be stopped just because the numbers doesn’t work. For some graduate students, taking care of families and working at the same time as going to graduate school is nothing unusual, so the least UT can do is to try to support this group better by lessening their financial burden so they can succeed both academically as well as personally.  

The survey closes Tuesday at noon and can be filled out at https://acsurvey.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9GE6kmCvTLEtY5D. 

Liu is an associate editor.