UT should purchase more off-campus housing for students

Emma Vrana, Columnist

In my family, we spent most of my childhood saving for my college tuition. After we finally got that taken care of, we learned that student living cost more than in-state tuition. It felt like we had taken a massive step backward. 

UT recently acquired two student-living options, Dobie Twenty21 and land to build graduate student housing–– a step in the right direction. Over the next decade, UT should purchase more off-campus living for students to keep student proximity and affordability a priority.

Austin’s growing population has affected affordable student living surrounding campus. Rent prices have skyrocketed during the pandemic, which hasn’t helped with the affordability crisis at UT.

As the UT campus is landlocked, buying out places like Dobie Twenty21 is the best option UT currently has to expand and ensure student housing options.

UT spokesperson J.B. Bird discussed how University-owned living can keep rent down for students. Bird also touched on future plans for University-owned residential spaces.

“University-owned student residences do cost less than private residences,” Bird said. “The president has said that he’s not pursuing anything at the moment, but he believes the University has to remain open to strategic opportunities.”

When it comes to private living, companies can charge whatever they please and have no liability for the well-being of students that happen to live at their residences. The hope is that University housing, by contrast, has the student’s best interest in mind when charging rent and offers more reasonable options. 

Keeping students close to campus with affordable rent is essential. Arts and entertainment sophomore Nikolay Korygin, who lives in Northwest Hills due to the expense of West Campus,  spoke about his difficulties living far off.

“It’s very hard to get work done (and) commuting to campus is difficult in the mornings,” Korygin said. “Overall, I just feel detached.”

Commuting is a lot harder than those who live on campus might think. Korygin also mentioned the unreliability of the shuttle system and the high cost of parking at UT.

“I have to park, then take a shuttle to campus which sometimes doesn’t come,” Korygin said. “Everybody that I know who doesn’t come from a privileged household . . . says that it’s too expensive to live (on or near) campus.” 

According to Korygin, living near enough to  walk to campus is a luxury. 

Staying connected to campus is essential for the student experience. Making friends but also taking advantage of student resources on campus are part of what our tuition pays for. 

Students like Korygin show that purchasing more student living is a necessity, and UT has already taken steps to respond to students’ calls to action. 

UT should continue to purchase more close by off-campus living to help keep students near campus. Student living should never cost more than tuition.

Vrana is a journalism sophomore from Austin, Texas.