The associate director of residence life at Simon Fraser University believes that living on campus has benefits that go beyond convenience and saving money. “Study after study has shown that when you live in residence, you’re much more likely to graduate and much more likely to get higher grades, and you feel more connected to your institution,” Chris Rogerson told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
Rogerson said SFU has “just shy of 2,000 beds in many different varieties” of rooms. Unfortunately, they are mostly taken, but SFU is still accepting late applications to fill spaces gained through last-minute cancellations.
“So we have a traditional-style residence hall with students on a meal plan,” Rogerson explained. “Those are for our first- and second-year students. We also have traditional with a kitchen. We have townhouses with a kitchen, and we also have apartment-style living, both furnished and unfurnished, for graduate- and family-style.”
UBC’s managing director of student housing and hospitality services, Andrew Parr, told the Straight that demand is intense.
“There are almost 9,000 beds on campus, ranging from traditional first-year beds to apartment- and suite-style to student family housing in townhouses and apartments,” he said. “At this stage, we are completely full and there is actually a wait list in place for this September.”
UBC’s lowest-cost “traditional” on-campus small single room, with shared bathroom—and with the student on a meal plan—runs at $520 a month, Parr said. A single room in an apartment unit, where students cook and clean, is $625 to $800. Studio units rent from $915 to $1,045, while unfurnished student family townhouses and apartments rent for about $1,020 (one bedroom) to $1,670 (four bedrooms) per month. This doesn’t include Internet access.
Even though, according to Parr, UBC provides more housing than any Canadian university, there still aren’t enough beds to accommodate all students wanting to live on campus. He points out that senior administrators and the board of governors have committed to building 2,500 beds over a five-year period.
Rogerson said at SFU, the building of the Towers, starting in 2004—with the Jack and Doris Shadbolt, Pauline Jewett, and Barbara Rae houses—doubled existing capacity.
Rents at the Towers run $2,621 per term, according to SFU’s website. Hamilton Hall is $767 per month for a one-bedroom unit. Louis Riel House apartments are $816 monthly for a one-bedroom and $958 monthly for two-bedroom accommodation.
“Whereas most other institutions have doubles or, in some cases, triples, we have only single residences,” Rogerson stated. “We have chosen to stay that way for many, many years, just because we believe that there’s a greater success for our student.”
Tom Durning of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre advises students to visit his organization’s website to learn more about their rights. “First of all, student housing—as in, [housing] run by the university—is not covered by the Residential Tenancy Act,” Durning told the Straight by phone.
He recommends not making hasty decisions. And he notes that students should avoid signing a one-year lease if they only want to rent for the eight-month school term.
“If you’re really into your studies—and you really need your peace and quiet as you’re doing these daring experiments—don’t rent a place which is near pubs and major highways and throughways,” Durning added. “Be aware of the ambiance of the place you’re renting.”