Written by Amal Javed Abdullah, Staff Writer
While the housing crisis in Metro Vancouver is seeing on-campus dorms fill up and pushing students to look for housing elsewhere, SFU Residence and Housing is taking steps to provide more extensive housing for its students.
“A student may be more affected in the current rental environment that exists in British Columbia and particularly, the Lower Mainland, in terms of affordability as they may not have that extra added disposable income that someone who is working might have,” noted Leon Kalligerakis, marketing and communications coordinator at SFU Residence and Housing, in an email interview with The Peak.
In order to increase on-campus housing spaces, the Housing Master Plan was approved by SFU in 2015. The plan details the construction of new buildings and renovations to existing buildings which have been approved through consultation processes with stakeholders of the university such as students, staff, and university executives.
According to Kalligerakis, the first phase of the plan will be completed in fall 2020 and will provide two new buildings and an additional 482 rooms. 360 more rooms will become available by fall 2022.
Along with the housing options available on Burnaby campus, SFU also offers housing for 68 students in the Charles Chang Innovation Center in Vancouver, which was opened in 2016. The majority of residents are graduate students.
For off-campus housing, SFU Residence and Housing has partnered with places4students.com, an online resource that brands lists off-campus housing listings in partnerships with over 160 post-secondary schools throughout North America. The website links schools, students, and landlords in order to provide housing options for students to live off-campus.
Kalligerakis advised students to be cautious of the information they receive with regards to housing options. “Students should always focus on the sites and partners that both SFU and FIC partner with to help make an informed decision. Because there are a lot of different options out there, we cannot guarantee the authenticity of any organization, advertisement, or option that we have not partnered with,” he wrote.
Kalligerakis noted a number of benefits of on-campus housing for students, such as the meal plan and a community shaped by the student residents.
SFU Residence and Housing provides on-campus housing options for students, currently offering 1668 beds. In order to live on residence, a student must either be enrolled at SFU or FIC and be taking a minimum of nine credits. While there is a wait list, it “changes considerably depending on the date you ask,” wrote Kalligerakis.
Mishaa Khan, an international SFU student studying behavioural neuroscience, said she chose on-campus housing as it serves her needs as a student well. However, Khan noted it is difficult to get in because of the surge of students that apply every semester, especially in the fall. As she has seen friends have to move off-campus due to late housing applications, she always makes sure to apply as soon as applications open.
Khan noted that she chose residence over other off-campus housing options because it is convenient, allowing her to avoid commute times up and down the mountain for classes. As well, on-campus housing also provides an avenue for her to get to know other students. “Residence Life does a good job in creating a welcome atmosphere and it helped me integrate better into society as an international student,” said Khan.
Additionally, living on residence at SFU makes Khan feel safe due to the additional staff resources give an added sense of security. “Campus public safety and community advisors are only a call away and they often walk around, making sure everything is fine,” she noted.
Balqees Jama is another student living on residence who also opts for on-campus housing because of the convenience. “I leave campus once a week to do some things I need, but everything I need is generally here. I have my friends, job, and school in the same place. I’m on the 24/7 meal plan which saves me lots of time while allowing me to be social,” she said.
Like Khan, Jama felt that the the on-campus housing options are competitive and hard to get into.
“SFU has a first-come first-serve system, so I have learned to wait for the clock to go from 11:59 p.m. to midnight just so I can guarantee that I will get a spot.” – Balqees Jama, SFU student and on-campus housing resident
Jama also echoes Khan’s sentiments about feeling safe on residence: “I felt so secure that I did not even look for places to stay off-campus. [. . .] I feel so safe on campus that I don’t mind studying in an academic building alone until 2 a.m..”
With files from CBC News.