It’s that time of the year when thousands of post-secondary students make the big move into dorms ahead of the coming school year.
SFU students who were able to secure housing said they feel lucky to get their spots.
“It’s my first day ever day (at Simon Fraser University). I’m from Windsor, Ontario,” Elizabeth Soulliere, an SFU student, said.
“(I) applied for housing really early.”
Soulliere is one of the lucky ones, as the Alliance of BC Students said there are thousands who weren’t able to secure housing spots on campuses.
“The situation with student housing is awful for students. (Many) can’t find housing that is affordable and close to campuses for them,” Manpreet Kaur told Global News, Alliance of BC Students’ chair.
“Many domestic students are choosing to live at home because that is the only option for them.
“There are also many rental scams out there, especially for international students who are vulnerable, which means most of them end up living with five to six other students in a suite because that’s all they can find and afford.”
Kaur said in these cramped living situations, much of the time these international students do not sign a formal lease agreement which leaves them with no protections under the Residential Tenancy Act.
She also said those who are forced to live off campus do not have the same access to student resources as those who do and might not get the same school community experience.
At the University of British Columbia, more than 13,000 students are housed on the campus.
“About 4,000 first-year students arrived last week and (this weekend) is the last of the groups to move in at about 3,500,” said Andrew Parr, UBC’s student housing and community services’ associate vice president.
“It’s a really exciting time of the year. (Campus housing) is coveted and this is a housing crisis we are facing in the Lower Mainland. At the summer peak this year, we had 8,000 students who wanted to live on campus that we couldn’t accommodate because we didn’t have enough space.”
Parr said the university has recently added more than 5,500 beds in the last ten years with a plan to add 4,800 beds in the following decade.
“We are continuing to grow and make those investments but still we are not keeping up with the demand,” Parr said.
UBC has shifted its 24-hour front desk service in student housing buildings to just daytime hours instead. Parr said instead of having people at the front doors for all student buildings, they will have three roaming teams in their place.
“Students will know (the teams) phone numbers. They can reach out to them for access if they are locked out or for any other situations that may arise. There are some who think we are taking away some safety or aspects of what we offer at residence, but we think we are enhancing (student) safety and it’s a really good system.”
Parr said the school will be consulting with students as the year progresses to see if the new system is working.