Housing reopens door

The 200-plus waiting list for student housing at the University of Alaska Anchorage has been eradicated in less than two weeks.

On Aug. 28 housing services at UAA had a waiting list for on-campus housing. It was the first time that housing services had a waiting list since the resident halls were created three years ago.

There is no longer a waiting list for students wanting on-campus housing. Bill Spindle, director of UAA housing services, says many students did not show up during check in on Aug. 23-26, or they cancelled their reservations allowing room for any student still on the waiting list – and then some.

“We didn't know 100 students wouldn't show up,” Spindle said. “Right now, out of 950 beds, we do have a few scattered beds open.”

There are approximately 10 to15 beds currently available. They are all in female rooms, but housing services could reconfigure some of those rooms to create rooms for male students if there is interest.

Spindle says that it is not unusual for a university to have a large number of cancellations right before or during check in. He said some students called and alerted housing services that they had found other accommodations while other simply did not show up. Spindle said that it is not uncommon for students to reserve a bed in the residence halls just as insurance. But many end up finding apartments with friends during the summer and do not notify housing services.

Spindle says it isn't an “exact science” to figure out how many students may or may not show up to claim their rooms. He also attributes the struggles of this year to a “normal growing process.” On campus apartments have been available since the early 1980s, but the resident halls and resident life offices were created only three years ago. Now, with some experience and a full staff, housing services is trying to create a better method for accommodating students.

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“We are putting a team together to look at the entire process,” Spindle said.

Housing services has talked to other universities about their process for waiting lists and contingency plans. Most universities overbook rooms similar to the way airlines overbook flights. But if they overbook and everybody does show up, then housing services needs to find space for them. Spindle says that setting up students in hotels is not a reasonable option since summer rates in Anchorage are high. Doubling or tripling occupancy in rooms isn't an option either, says Spindle, because there is no telling how long students my have to live with those arrangements.

Spindle says that housing services does need to look at revising and creating some new policies and procedures. This may include changing the criteria of who qualifies for on-campus housing. Currently, any student with 6 or more credits can receive on-campus housing. Spindle says that since there was room in past years they tried to keep the criteria as open as possible. Now, with interest in on-campus housing apparently rising, housing services may need to change those criteria.

“Maybe our number one priority should be full-time, enrolled students,” Spindle said. He also mentioned having a stricter timeline for applications and perhaps a higher application fee.

Spindle has spoken to Chancellor Gorsuch about the increased interest in on-campus housing.

“He is very interested in having a vibrant, on-campus housing program,” Spindle said. He said the Chancellor is interested in creating more housing if the trends continue and as resources become available.

As for spring semester, Spindle says that housing services is predicting approximately 100 vacancies. Students currently residing on-campus receive first priority for spring housing. There is no deadline yet as to when those students need to specify if they are leaving or staying after fall semester. But Spindle encourages students to apply early if they are interested in housing for the spring.

“We welcome any and all to apply early and we will do the best we can to accommodate them. We will do everything we can to find a place for anyone that wants a room.”