Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Ban on windowless bedrooms requests public feedback

Champers Fu
Elozia Dy, a junior pursuing an integrated masters in professional accounting, makes the most of her windowless apartment through an abundance of decorations and lighting. Photo taken Thursday.

Austin Development Services requested public feedback starting Feb. 15 to proposed code amendments requiring windows be installed in bedrooms of all future developments, with the community invited to comment at a public information and feedback session on Feb. 29.

In September 2023, a letter signed by roughly 800 students and brought before the City Council prompted a resolution to change the current building code. The code change was originally set to be considered by this August during the next code adoption process. However, the Student Housing Advocacy Coalition successfully pushed for the new code to be brought to a city council public hearing planned for April 18. 

Accounting junior Eloiza Dy signed the petition after living in a windowless room for two years. Dy first chose to live at Rio 21 due to the cheaper rent, not knowing how the windowless bedroom would impact her. 

“Thank God, I’m pretty secure in my place in life right now, so I’m not too emotionally distressed,” Dy said. “If I am, I’m gracious enough to have good coping mechanisms, but I do hear about people who just spend their whole days cooped up in their dark bedroom.”

Laura Garcia, an exchange student from Barcelona, Spain, studying international relations as a senior, knew nothing about her apartment going in and found herself living in a windowless bedroom. Garcia said she was previously diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and living without natural lighting affects her daily life. 

“I already talked to the managers and they told me it’s not possible to move,” Garcia said. “I also asked to cancel the lease, but they won’t give me my deposit back, which was $3,000.” 

Members of the Student Housing Advocacy Coalition met with city staff in December. Architecture junior Namartha Thrikutam said they discussed how developers might take advantage of the time gap and the apartments that could be built before the code’s implementation. 

“Students are a population that developers know they can take advantage of,” Thrikutam said. “We don’t have as much money. We don’t have as much standing in the world. We don’t have as much experience about things that we’ve been through, so it’s very easy to take advantage of us.”

A representative of the Coalition said they received a message from council member Zo Qadri’s office in January stating they would expedite the process, Thirkutam said. However, they said they remain worried about any projects submitted before the amendments go into effect and what will happen with the windowless bedrooms that remain from past developments.

Juan Miró, a professor at the School of Architecture, said he is working to change the issue of windowless bedrooms on a national level by altering the International Building Code. He proposed a baseline architectural requirement that clarifies a loophole not requiring natural lighting in bedrooms. 

“The city of Chicago already changed their code,” Miró said “The city of Washington DC already changed their code. We’re going to change it here in Austin. My logic is ‘Why don’t we change it at the source?’”

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