With the campus set to absorb an additional 750 students in fall 2016, the campus housing office plans to make changes to the on-campus housing system to accommodate the influx, including waitlisting more students applying to on-campus housing.
The changes consist of a more rigorous waitlist process and a planned four percent price increase for student residence halls and apartments. Housing offers will be made in multiple rounds in which waitlisted students will have an opportunity to get housing through a random lottery system. The first round of offers will be processed in March, and additional assignments will be made around July.
The application process itself will remain the same, but more students will be placed on a waitlist than in years past, with no on-campus housing guaranteed for all student. The office, however, will prioritize housing for first-year students, including both freshmen and some transfers, according to Adam Ratliff, campus communications manager for student affairs.
Ratliff said on-campus apartments including Maximino Martinez Commons, Wada Apartments and Channing-Bowditch Apartments will remain open over winter break for the first time. The four percent increase in housing prices accounts for inflation, as well as the rising cost of energy, supplies and labor, Ratliff said. He added that the annual rate increase has averaged less than one percent per year over the past five years.
“The University has covered that difference to date, but continuing cost increases have made that untenable,” Ratliff said in an email. “(We) are committed to keeping rates as low as possible as part of the broader campus objective of keeping the cost of a Berkeley education affordable.”
Late housing offers have created issues for some students in the past, including campus freshman Kimberly Berndt, a spring admit who was initially waitlisted and did not receive her housing offer until the middle of December, less than a month before she started classes.
Berndt called the housing office and was told that waitlist processing was done randomly and that her place in line could not be determined. Because Berndt is not from the area and wanted to ensure housing before classes started, she instead signed a lease at a privately-owned student housing complex on Cedar Street.
“UC should be more mindful of the fact that it is an incredible source of anxiety for students to be starting summer without knowing what they’ll be doing when summer ends,” said UC Student Association President Kevin Sabo.
Matthew Lewis, chair of the ASUC Student Housing Committee and campus senior, said that if UC Berkeley doesn’t plan to build more campus-owned and operated housing complexes, the housing shortage will only be exacerbated.
Ratliff said the campus is continuing to look for other “creative” housing solutions to accommodate future planned enrollment increases.