Convenience at a cost
Living on campus is a mixed bag
by katlyn richardson, contributor
When I started university in 2015, my parents put me in residence, as they lived five hours away and I didn’t own a car. I had lived in Regina from 2012 to 2013 before moving to Prince Albert so Regina wasn’t a new city to me, but I wasn’t fully aware of everything here back then. I had asked to live on my own off-campus, but my dad thought living on-campus was best. While I enjoyed only needing to wake up about 30 minutes before a morning class, the extra travel time of living off-campus is worth the freedom.
I currently live about 15 minutes from downtown and 10 minutes from a bus stop to get me to the university. The worst travel time to the university is 20 minutes taking bus number 3. If I take bus number 30 I’m there in 10-15 minutes, which is comparable to driving myself. With living off-campus, I feel like I can be more independent and can act like an adult. When living on campus, you can only have visitors during certain times of day, with more restrictions during the exam period. The restrictions based on the time of day makes sense, as I too would rather not be awoken by someone having their friends over at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday. That being said, when living off-campus, I am not as limited by this and don’t have to keep track of how long someone can sleep over.
I left housing in 2019 as I wanted more freedom. My now-fiancé was also looking for a place as his lease was about to be up, so we moved to the building we are in now. My costs of living significantly dropped with the move, even without splitting costs of living 50/50 with my fiancé. Our current rent is $3400 for 4 months plus another about $300 for power and $200 for internet. On campus I’d be paying more for a smaller space. Rent there is almost $100 more per month based on the current prices on the university website. Considering the current cost-of-living crisis we are in, this just isn’t feasible for a majority of people.
Hearing that university housing has a high vacancy rate doesn’t surprise me. During the pandemic, there was almost no good reason to live on campus when you could just opt out of rent and live at home while attending classes. Now, with some classes still being mostly remote, there isn’t a huge push towards living within Regina. I know someone only still in Regina because of an internship for their program. I am also starting to see a bit of a shift in the plans for international students when they come here for their programs. These days, I see more people posting on Facebook looking for off-campus housing and only using on-campus housing as an absolute last resort.
I do have to say that housing services might literally be the reason I am still alive right now. I was fleeing an abusive relationship and was days away from homelessness with most shelters being full or only having openings for mothers and children. When I told housing about my situation, my application was expedited and I had keys an hour later plus was put on a payment plan for everything, as the only availability was a dorm room. I was moved in by the end of the day and was able to finally relax.
Housing has its flaws and certainly can afford to cut some fees, but they do seem to try to support students. If the university would lower residence costs to be closer to what students would split off campus with utilities and internet, I honestly think housing could fix its vacancy problem. If not, they could easily plan to have some floors for students, some for hotel-style use, and some for housing those in pressing need of shelter. I am sure the university can arrange some kind of financial agreement with the government towards this end.