Kristie Hartz had many things in mind when she registered to live in Temple Towers next semester, but living with seven other people wasn’t one of them.
“I wanted to live in the Towers and still want to,” said Hartz, an undeclared freshman. “But if I wanted to live with eight other people – friends or not – I would have moved off campus. How am I going to study with seven other people sitting at their desks, watching TV around me?”
On March 13, Michael Scales, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and director of University Housing and Residential Life, sent an e-mail saying Temple Towers, which will be undergoing a projected $27 million renovation this summer, will be combining three- and four-person units to create new eight-person units.
The announcement came as a surprise to the affected students, who originally received their assignments to the three- and four-person units as early as Feb. 6.
“[University Housing and Residential Life] is playing it off like it’s going to be a great thing for everyone,” said Shanna Metague, a freshman actuarial science major and one of Hartz’s future roommates. “But it’s not. We’re still paying as much as people living [in the two-, three- and six-person units], but we’ll be crammed with eight.”
Scales said regardless of room size, each resident will pay the same amount – $3,670 per semester.
“Really, what you have to think about is that Temple Towers has by far more square footage than any other unit in the [University Housing and Residential Life] inventory,” Scales said. “These are large units. It’s a dynamic process. When you go from a project being on the books to actually happening, things change.”
Scales said while he couldn’t give an exact date as to when his office became aware of the eight-person compaction, it was prompt in contacting the affected students via e-mail and setting up meetings to discuss the changes.
Scales and Sean Killion, assistant director for assignments and billing, hosted a meeting March 19 to discuss how the options will affect students.
Students were given the option to either accept the assigned room and live with four other strangers, find four other Temple Towers residents to fill the four-person vacancy or be reimbursed their $250 deposits and find housing elsewhere, Scales said.
Students who attended the meeting were treated to refreshments and $25 in Diamond Dollars for their time.
“Twenty-five Diamond Dollars?” Hartz said. “It already costs an arm and a leg to live on Temple’s campus. They know that we will pay whatever they charge because it’s dangerous to live off campus. We shouldn’t have to pay the same amount for more roommates and less space to share. At least throw us a bone and comp us a meal plan so we can eat.”
Scales said the plans for the renovation, which began more than a year ago, include permanent eight-person units consisting of four bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and shared kitchen and living space.
The recent changes to the blueprints as presented to University Housing and Residential Life included the consolidation of all rooms with numbers ending in 05 and 06.
“So basically, we’re being punished for choosing an arbitrary number,” said Colin Saltry, a freshman economics major, TSG Senate clerk and soon-to-be Temple Towers tenant. “It’s an issue of fairness.”
Yesterday, Temple Student Government addressed the housing issue at its Senate meeting, and a motion was made to set up a meeting between TSG, University Housing and Residential Life and the administration in hopes of accomplishing a concession in fees for those affected by the eight-person room change.
Representation from the Residence Hall Association was also present at the meeting and said it feels as though the situation is “outrageous and atrocious” and will support any decisions TSG makes regarding the issue.
“At the end of the day, we really are student advocates,” Scales said. “Helping people have good stays and a good experience is a paramount issue for [University Housing and Residential Life]. We recognize that, but it takes a little bit of time and patience sometimes.”
Still, recognition isn’t enough for Hartz and others in her situation.
“Right now, we’re kind of being forced to shut up and put up, but I want compensation,” she said. “This is where we’re paying to live for the next year, and we shouldn’t have to put up with incompetence.”
Maria Zankey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.