A number of UC San Diego students have expressed frustration with the university’s usage of a lottery system to determine eligibility for on-campus housing. This prompted many to take to social media platforms to discuss their anxiety about finding housing and issues such as high housing prices around La Jolla.
In April 2021, UCSD Housing Dining Hospitality announced plans through email to implement a new priority housing allocation. In recent months, HDH decreased its housing capacity due to triples being removed from undergraduate housing. The priority list goes as follows:
- Students in programs that mandate their four year on-campus residency (i.e. HOPE Scholars, Regents Scholarships, and the PATHS Program).
- New incoming freshmen, first-year transfers, and second-year students who stayed on campus for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year.
- Remaining second-year students, including second-year transfer students.
- Junior and Senior students.
Incoming second-year students who did not stay on campus for the 2020-2021 academic year were placed into a lottery system. By contrast, incoming second-year students (including transfer students) who lived in their respective campus housing for the entirety of the school year were provided guaranteed housing and were not included in the lottery.
For some, the new lottery system seemed to be unfair for students who felt uncomfortable with living on-campus during the pandemic. Thurgood Marshall College sophomore Teresa Bacerra said that the lottery created uncertainty about her housing situation.
“I felt like all of the circumstances and situations that other students like me had to deal with were not taken into consideration,” Bacerra said. “We were placed on the lottery unsure of what was going to happen. Many details were not mentioned or clear. The housing website didn’t have specific dates for when housing contracts would be released.” Students were informed of lottery results in June, but the website never specified specific dates beforehand.
Amitis Hayati, another Marshall College sophomore, agreed that the new lottery system seemed to be unfair to students who were taking the pandemic seriously.
“I feel that it punishes the students that did the right thing and stayed home,” Hayati said. “Those of us who sacrificed the college experience for the health of ourselves and those around us never get to live on campus now.”
Aside from the lottery, students have also expressed frustration and concern over the rising demand for off-campus housing this year, with La Jolla already standing as the 21st most expensive city to live in California. Furthermore, San Diego County’s median home price is rising due to opposition to new projects, housing regulations in California, and rising labor and material costs, which worsen the housing crisis.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported the average rent in University City to be $2,745 per month in the second quarter of 2021. The average rent in San Diego County overall was reported to be $2,009 per month in the second quarter.
In an interview with The UCSD Guardian, Roger Revelle College senior Claire Andolina said that securing housing even farther from campus is becoming more competitive.
“Off-campus housing 8 miles from campus can be $900, and people will fight over it,” Andolina said. “The demand and prices are so high around San Diego, no wonder people are ready to brawl each other for any chance to live on campus.”
Andolina went on to explain that commuting to campus remained a hurdle even after securing housing.
“Before COVID hit, I was using a car, train, and bus, all to get to campus, and then a Lyft, train, and then car to get back home,”Andolina said. “This altogether took about three hours each day.”
In response to these complaints UCSD told The Guardian in an email that the university is doing its best to help as many students who applied to live on campus.
Offers for the third priority group were sent out on June 14, which made it hard for students to determine when to start searching for housing in May. The University also mentioned that it is typical for students to start applying for off-campus lodging around May, then receive contracts in June.
Furthermore, according to an email from UCSD Student Affairs Representative Erika Johnson sent to The Guardian, “Since students in priority three all share the same priority, a lottery was determined to be the most fair way to allocate the remaining housing contracts among that priority group.”
Some claimed that they had been told that UCSD planned to set aside 500 rooms for quarantine usage. Johnson clarified that there will not be a dedicated on-campus space for this purpose as the university plans to rent hotel space for quarantine housing.
UCSD is not the only UC campus to establish a priority system for the 2020-2021 year. Similarly, UC Merced and UC Berkeley both implemented on-campus housing priority for Fall 2021. They also both prioritize first-year students and certain students (such as athletes and those in financial need) over sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
On its Undergraduate Housing website, HDH suggests to students who haven’t been offered housing to look at off-campus housing options and recommends visiting their Off-Campus Housing website or searching Facebook groups such as UCSD Students Off-Campus Housing.
“Through the Off-Campus Housing Office, students can schedule a housing consultation to review off-campus housing options, receive general first-time lease signing information as well as find move-in and move-out resources,” the website states.
Besides on-campus housing, UCSD plans to reopen most campus services and allow for in-person learning for Fall 2021. More information on UCSD’s campus planning can be found here.
Photo courtesy of Ellie Wang for The UCSD Guardian.