Too many students, not enough housing
Pei 2 exterior. Photo by Catalyst staff writer.

Too many students, not enough housing

Following abrupt changes to student housing implemented in Summer 2023, New College of Florida’s administration has not solidified a solution to the issue of adequately accommodating its student body on campus. As summer nears, students find themselves once again in a state of uncertainty regarding their housing arrangements. For third-year and thesis students, on-campus housing is not guaranteed, despite all students wishing to live on campus being required to pay a $100 non-refundable fee to apply. 

On March 12, students received the following email. Within minutes students took to the forum expressing concern and confusion over the details.

Screenshot of an email sent by Jennifer Meier.

“Well this is terrible,” one student wrote on the forum. “I am a fourth year now and I am legally homeless. I was actually hoping to get housing over the summer as well. I don’t have parents to go to for help. I have no one. I literally have nowhere to go. NCF is my only home right now. Now I have another thing to worry about. I get to worry about being homeless in the fall, too. Yay.” 

Another expressed feeling that the lack of priority for upperclassmen was another means of ensuring only a “preferred” type of student would get housing, “i.e. exclude pre-takeover students,” they said.

A different student said, “It’s so strange they keep making it seem like it’s all ‘out of their hands.’ The most straightforward method to make sure all students receive on-campus housing is to not over-admit students for the fall semester. They make the enrollment goal seem like an enrollment requirement. When it is just that, a goal. Nothing is stopping them from limiting acceptance based on the number of beds available. It’s a matter of the administration prioritizing arbitrary goals over the needs and education of their current student body.”

“As an off-campus student who’s lived here for 17 years, unless you’re a local or know someone willing to rent a room to you off-campus, finding affordable housing in Sarasota/Bradenton is next to impossible especially in the neighborhoods adjacent to New College,” someone else added on the email thread. “I was legally homeless for the start of my second year because, even with the help of my family, we couldn’t find anything we could afford or get approved for (a lot of leasing offices here don’t like college students).

“There’s also no way admin isn’t aware of the housing crisis in Sarasota and this is intentionally designed to displace working class students,” they continued. “They’re not happy with the amount of us who chose to stay and this is how they intend to get rid of us.”

A Catalyst reporter spoke with Director of the Advocacy and Accessible Learning Center (ALC) Jennifer Meier in an email interview, where she explained that the only available options on-campus at the moment are V, W, X, Y, Z, Dort and Goldstein. 

“We have to do a bidding process again for hotels and once complete, one or two hotels will be selected and will be built into our system as on-campus housing,” Meier said. “In addition, we are in negotiation for more housing options and hope to have a contract in place soon. All housing options will be within a half mile from campus.”

If hotel contracts are acquired, they would count as “on campus” according to Meier. How many students would be placed in each hotel is still unsure. Housing will also do their best to honor roommate group requests, but they are not guaranteed. As stated in the New College regulations manual under the Residency Requirement (6-3002), priority goes to first and second years for on-campus housing. 

“With enrollment numbers increasing, we would not be able to give priority choices to upperclassmen,” Meier said.

Rumors had spread around campus of the possibility third and fourth years would be given a stipend to find off-campus housing, although Meier clarified this is no longer the case because administration is trying to secure more housing options for upperclassmen. 

Students on the forum also voiced concerns over the price increase for on-campus housing, which as far as the student body is aware, is estimated to be $7,500 for a double room and $9,720 for a single room. Although this is subject to change. 

“Housing costs in general increase for various reasons, a significant rise in cost of living would increase housing costs,” Meier explained. “The administration is trying to avoid an increase in housing and maintain last year’s prices.”

Meier was asked whether students with Emotional Support Animals (ESA) will also be given priority for a dorm on campus, as the hotels did not allow any sort of animals. Meier said all students requesting housing accommodations must submit a 2024-2025 eligibility letter from the ALC with their housing application. They have to meet the housing deadlines. If placements begin in May and a student does not complete their housing application until July, that late applicant will be put on a waitlist for the first available space of their request. First- and second- year students will be placed first, then third- and fourth-year students. According to Meier, the goal is to have housing assignments completed and available to all students by July 1, but there may be delays if more housing is acquired.

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