Facing the off-campus housing frenzy

By Anna Scot Lovejoy | Staff Columnist

Groups of students across The University of Alabama campus face a multitude of stressful situations as midterms draw closer and classes begin to fall into their groove. Aside from the ever-present anxieties caused by school, it is the time of year when a majority of us must kick it into gear trying to find the perfect apartment, house and roommates for next year. As a sophomore, I am acquainted with the process of frenzied group texting, calling and meeting up with friends in a last-ditch effort to somehow successfully know exactly where and who you want to live with next August.

Recalling the higher levels of anxiety that this process brought to me freshman year makes me sympathize with and almost pity the younger students just starting to define their friend groups, for they must now put new relationships on the line by picking and choosing what leases to sign and with whom. Not only dealing with possible hurt feelings and situations of miscommunication, freshmen are given practically no other option than to room with whomever they know best at this point in their college career. Might I reiterate that this “career” in which I am referring to has been a brief one or two months. Although best friends frequently blossom after an immediate connection, it is absolutely fair to say that finding your best friend in college does not happen for a lot of us until November, December and maybe even into second semester.

Taking into consideration that it is currently a mere month and a half into the fall semester, I deem it no surprise when students express their dissatisfaction and confusion with the undeniable pressure to apply for and sign a lease by early October (i.e. right now). I currently live with a group of women from my sorority, and we are still facing some living issues that would have been avoidable if we hadn’t been pressured by off-campus housing companies to sign our leases so early in our freshman year. Not only has this absurdly premature housing trend on our campus caused awkward roommate pairs for rising sophomores, but yet again this year, my friends and I fear that wrong decisions could possibly be made in regard to the best housing option for each person for next year. This week I know that local leasing offices opened up their lease applications for the public, but the real issue is getting to certain house tenants before landlords force them to relinquish their say in who moves into their house next year.

The competitive nature of house hunting off campus at The University of Alabama seems to be a particularly notable one. Friends from The University of Mississippi, The University of South Carolina and The University of Georgia all have made claims or statements to my friends and I in the past about how strangely early and difficult our housing trends seem in comparison to their own. Although I understand that realty-leasing businesses must be experiencing great success on campus due to the competition and high demand of consumers, my question is this: at what cost? Perhaps I am unaware of the effects of waiting another month to make people re-sign leases or to release the applications for next year’s leases, but if all of the property owners in Tuscaloosa would wait just a bit longer, a great number of students might be spared a bad living experience for the following year. Whether they are near or far away from home, freshmen or juniors, students at The University of Alabama ought to be given a better chance to find their perfect place to live.

Anna Scott Lovejoy is a sophomore majoring in business and biology. Her column runs biweekly.

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