At yesterday’s Student Government meeting, a motion was brought forward by President Reauna Stiff and Vice President Kara Svercl that would seek to improve accountability for off-campus housing complexes.
The resolution was voted on and passed with 22 votes and one abstention. Now, the University will form a task force that will work with a third-party website developer to create a site to serve as the University’s “hub” for off-campus housing.
The University currently has off-campus living information located on its website. This tab on the website includes different listings as well as information on various apartment complexes in the community.
The goal of the motion is to create incentive for the off-campus locations to increase living conditions for students living off campus.
The proposed resolution includes verbiage that notes off-campus student plights such as lack of transparency when looking for a place to live, subpar management and a “history of substandard treatment from off campus housing properties toward student renters.”
The motion also refers to “reports of racism, slow responsiveness, unsafe living conditions and unfair withholding of security of deposits” made against various off-campus housing properties.
During the meeting, there was extended back and forth on the phrasing, some senators insisting that the resolution needed to have more “teeth.”
Graduate Studies Senator Douglas Roberts pushed for additional repercussions for complaints made by students.
“My greatest fear of us not including something along the lines of encouraging some sort of acting being taken is that no action will be taken,” he said.
Off-campus senator Alysha Kruger said she is in firm support of the motion, hoping to see more effort from the apartment complexes.
“I want to see the landlords be a lot more responsive, and take a lot more initiative to create safe and affordable housing for our students,” said Kruger, “I think it is a really important issue on campus.”
Vice-President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management David Jones would be in charge of finding a staff member to co-run the process of investigation.
“I think having a tool where they can provide feedback about their experience is a great move for all of our students,” said Jones, who voiced support for the motion from the administration’s perspective. “The student senate has really focused their energy on the needs of our students.”
With the passing of the resolution, a task force will be created with a faculty member and no less than three students to run a “Request for Proposal” process to vet various third party sites that can build the envisioned website.