University Housing and Dining sent out renewal contract offers for on-campus housing almost a month late, affecting nearly 1,700 current students.
Renewal contract offers were supposed to be sent out Feb. 1 for returning students who applied before the priority deadline on Jan. 31. Instead, the offers were sent out March 1 — the same time offers were sent to incoming freshmen. Returning students who applied after Jan. 31 were not given an offer and were put on a wait-list.
Mylon Kirksy, director of residence life, said this delay was caused by the department taking longer than expected to edit and finalize contracts, as well as holding space for incoming freshmen they later determined was unnecessary.
“I wasn’t able to get both things done to release the contracts,” Kirksy said. “We needed to adjust based on the fact that we didn’t meet the first offer date.”
The department’s marketing manager Cynthia Lew said one factor in the delay was the addition of an unlimited meal plan to the contract offers. Kirksy said he could not recall any other significant changes to the contract offers from last year.
The 2018-2019 freshman class was the largest incoming class with 8,960 students, according to a UT News article. Kirksy said the large incoming class did not affect the availability of housing, and the University has approximately 7,400 beds for on-campus housing, which has previously been a satisfactory amount.
“We get the sense that if we were able to have more beds on campus, then we probably could house more students,” Kirksy said, “We don’t necessarily get complaints or concerns from students.”
Kendall Slagle, Office of the Provost content strategist, said in an email housing availability is one factor considered in admission decisions. The University has also changed the automatic acceptance rate from the top 7 percent to top 6 percent to adjust for the large incoming numbers, Slater said.
Slagle said the increasing graduation rate has allowed the University to accept more students, as more students are graduating on time and opening spaces for new freshmen. The graduation rate has increased by approximately 20 percent over the past 10 years, according to data from the University’s Institutional Reporting, Research and Information Systems.
Theatre studies freshman Indira Rampersad said she was put on the wait-list after applying in February, but her roommate, who applied before Jan. 31, was also put on the wait-list. She said both were informed they would be offered a contract in June or July.
“My anxiety would not let me (wait),” Rampersad said. “I went looking off-campus immediately.”
Rampersad’s roommate was able to find both of them a lease off-campus and Rampersad said it was fairly easy to find off-campus housing, especially because she already had a roommate.
“I definitely think I got lucky in terms of the circumstances,” Rampersad said. “I don’t think it would’ve worked out as quickly as it did if I didn’t have that immediate connection.”
The housing wait-list never closes, so University Housing and Dining will send offers to students on the wait-list throughout the summer, Kirksy said.
“Our waitlist is fluid, we don’t ever really shut it down,” Kirksy said. “Typically students who are on the wait-list, and they still want housing with us, we were able to house them.”
Originally published in The Daily Texan on March 13, 2019
By Lauren Grobe
Illustration by Hilda Rodriguez