The Daily Gamecock

Column: USC needs to improve its housing accommodations

<p>An exterior view of the South Quad dormitory building located on the campus of the University of South Carolina. South Quad is one of many on-campus housing options for students.</p>
An exterior view of the South Quad dormitory building located on the campus of the University of South Carolina. South Quad is one of many on-campus housing options for students.

The first-year experience in college is one that is memorable and should be stress-free. However, with the shortage of housing on campus this year, some first-time students are facing problems with USC's current housing accommodations.  

The university expected to have 6,200 first-year students on campus this year, but currently has 6,576 and counting, according to Scott Verzyl, dean of undergraduate admission. By trying to accommodate both the current upperclassmen who requested on campus housing for this school year and the overflow of first-years, the university did not have enough space for all of its first-year students on campus. 

USC put some students in a hotel space for a couple of weeks, according to Verzyl. Josh Wise, director of strategic initiatives for the university, said the university did a master lease of a part of Saga Columbia - an apartment complex in Columbia - for an entire year where USC could put their extra students in. 

The students staying in the hotels were later shifted to Saga Columbia. The university also added more beds to larger dorm rooms, specifically in East Quad and South Quad

College is an especially confusing time during your first year, like trying to find your classes and trying to get a better grasp of the campus layout. The first-year students are already stressed about living in a new environment and having to deal with problems within housing adds more fuel to the fire. 

Some of the housing problems faced by the students was the lack of space and privacy. A first-year student living in South Quad said she didn't enjoy living in the room she said was too small for two people, "especially like two girls."

She also said it was very inconvenient for her when she wanted to do school work. 

"Our desks are in the living room. You're trying to use the Respondus LockDown Browser, and people are coming in and out of the living room," she said.

The housing that USC provided to these first-years was more of a quick fix than a long-term sustainable arrangement. The students are still struggling as they have trouble just doing their schoolwork in their provided dorm rooms.

A lot of the students are unhappy with their current living situation and wish that had better options than what the university provided for them. Meredith Blackwell, a first-year public health student, said the way the housing situation was handled was "unprofessional." 

"I think they should have not accepted as many students," Blackwell said. "You know how many people you are accepting. If you don't have places for them to stay, don't accept that much."

The university should have made the projections for the student population ahead of time and formed leases with multiple nearby apartments to prevent first-year students from having to shift from space to space and make the first weeks of college less of a hassle. And could have given all their students more space by placing them in more apartment rooms, instead of cramming them into dorm rooms. 

Although the university did its best to help give all its incoming freshmen housing and is continuing its housing efforts by installing four new buildings, it still should have done a better job by accommodating students more efficiently for this year. 

The students living in the overcrowded dorms will not have the luxury of being able to relax in their comfort of their dorm rooms after finishing up all their classes. Being away from home for the first time is already burdensome, but making students deal with stressful living situations makes the burden worse. 


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