Anybody who has dealt with the student housing market knows how intense it can be. Flyers in freshman dorms telling them they need to sign a contract before Halloween or they’ll be homeless, mandatory twelve-month leases, limits on subletting — Madison real estate is no joke. The pressure that most students feel when choosing future housing is palpable, and the story doesn’t end there.
On top of the usual difficulties, the introduction of new luxury high rises has added an unwanted twist to the student housing cycle. New developments like The James provide top notch living for those who can afford it, but present an unavoidable obstacle for those who cannot. Quite simply, the more of these luxury apartments there are, the less affordable options remain on and around campus. Without affordable options, students without the means to afford luxury living either have to dish out a high rent rate for noticeably less in the unit, or resort to low quality housing and dorms.
Madison real estate has appreciated 8.4 percent, partially thanks to new upscale student housing. Nowadays, there are fewer affordable options for students looking to live cheaply without sacrificing location. Students who opt to live in cheaper off-campus housing often end up having to invest in some sort of transportation during the winter, when a ten-minute bike ride is not doable in freezing cold weather. That extra cost and time commitment could be avoided if more affordable options existed on campus.
Of course, older students have the option to remain in the dorms, but the prices aren’t much better to live in a space a fraction of the size. Other universities across the country have on campus apartments for many upperclassmen. These are essentially dorms that feature kitchens and living spaces. This would be a great way for the university to provide legitimate options for students unable to fork over the hefty amounts demanded by the upscale apartment developments, but are unwilling to remain in dorms.
Additionally, the university should make a more demonstrated effort to provide affordable options on campus that still allow students the amenities of an average apartment.
At the end of the day, college kids don’t need to be living in the height of luxury. As generations before us are hardly shy to point out, stacking milk crates to make furniture and using hot plates to cook have their own desirable nostalgia that roof-top swimming pools and waterfront balconies cannot match.
Will Stern ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in journalism.